Sunday, December 03, 2006

Google for Runners

Back when I was a serious runner (my one-year fling with ultras in 2004-05), someone turned me on to this terrific tool for measuring routes on Google Maps. I'm suprised how many people still don't know about the Gmap "pedometer," which is great for accurately measuring the distance of running routes, such as this favorite, the Doudy Draw loop near Boulder. The tool works best on roads and highly visible trails (like bike paths in the prairie), and not so well on heavily forested trails. But I just noticed that the guy who built this thing has added a topo map overlay, which, though slow, greatly improves Gmap's usefulness for trail runners and hikers. Google Earth does this, too (Tools > Rule > Path), but I think Gmap is a simpler and more effective tool for route mapping.

Marathoners and ultrarunners say you're supposed to plan workouts by time and effort, not by distance, but it's still fun to know exactly how far you went. This tool tells you down to the ten-thousandth of a mile—a little over 6 inches.

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