Running Route Mapping Tools
compiled by Marty Mazur
The NVRC Running Route Maps pages have quite a few nice local routes all traced out on topographic, street, or satellite maps. These maps come with annotation, calculated distances and elevation profiles, and route alternatives. Some of the older maps were painstakingly generated using DeLorme 3-D Topo Quads 2.0, and augmented using Microsoft PowerPoint drawing tools. Online tools have become much more versatile in recent years and many of the newer routes have been added using one of the tools discussed below.
Rather than waiting for Marty to put your route on the Running Route Maps pages, you can make a nice first cut of your own map. Thanks to the efforts of various people to exploit the mapping and satellite imagery available in Yahoo and Google data bases, there are several online mapping tools, linked below, that can be useful to runners who want to plan a route or calculate the mileage they've run. Each of the tools below has its own advantages and disadvantages. The tools use the Bing and Google map service, which gives you access to street maps, a satellite's eye view, or a hybrid of the two (major roads superimposed on the satellite pictures). Both Bing and Google make very high resolution satellite imagery, which has over the years become available in all but the most rural areas. The tools calculate mileage, and two of them have calorie counter capabilities. And many online tools are free and easy learn to use. Try them all!
- Runningmap.com - Advantages: Good interface for generating running maps. Very accurate mileage. Can annotate maps. Can save maps to a "permalink". Disadvantages: Can edit maps once they are saved but this creates a new "permalink". Cannot add points between points that are already laid down except by deleting points from the end all the way back to the point you want to insert. No topo map or calorie counter.
- MapMyRun.com - Advantages: Clean interface. Easier to use than the Gmaps Pedometer. Remembers the last place you started from when you revisit the site. Can upload route from GPS unit. Has calorie counter. Elevation profile is pretty nice. Disadvantages: Need to register to activate some capabilities. Only Pro version allows annotation.
- Gmaps Pedometer - Advantages: Topo map and elevation profile available. No registration required to print map. Can download map to GPX data format. Disadvantages: Buggier interface than MapMyRun.com (satellite and hybrid options sometimes don't appear until you click some other unrelated menu options). Forgets your past visits to site. Relatively low resolution satellite imagery in State College Area.
- USATF Running Map Data Base - Advantages: Huge data base of running routes available all over America. You can map your own routes and add to the data base. Readers can critique routes. Disadvantages:Buggy interface.No elevation profile, topo map, or calorie counter capabilities.
Thanks to Greg Fredericks, John Sheakoski, and Morgan Wasikonis for the tips regarding these valuable online tools.