Called "Greatest Web Site of All Time"
INDIANAPOLIS - At least one blogger has called it "the greatest Web site of all time," while runners from high school athletes to businesspeople are making use of the technology.
Hyperbole or not, there is no doubt that "America's Running Routes" is fast becoming a hot, and useful, commodity for America's runners and travelers.
Using cutting edge technology provided by Google Maps, USA Track & Field, the national governing body for track and field, long distance running and race walking, developed America's Running Routes (ARR) as a revolutionary service that first allows runners to map and measure their favorite running routes. ARR then provides the means for them to save them to the largest searchable database of running routes in the country.
After debuting in early December 2005 and employing a motto of "Run it. Map it. Share It," USATF's library of America's Running Routes surpassed 10,000 saved routes within its first 10 weeks and now is approaching 20,000 routes. The service enables runners to search all routes in a particular city or to narrow their search to find ones on a specific type of terrain, from hotels, in parks, from trailheads or from running stores. Business travelers can find routes to run from the hotel where they are staying or from local parks.
But users of the America's Running Routes aren't restricted to routes that have already been mapped. They can utilize the technology to map out their own route before they run it. Once they've run a route, they can take their "America's Running Routes" experience even further by posting comments and reviews of a particular route.
"We are excited about the ability to offer the 30 million runners in the U.S. this free service," states USATF CEO Craig Masback. "Just the other day I ran a new route from work, then was able to map it, measure it, and save it using America's Running Routes. Now others in Indianapolis, and those coming to Indianapolis the 2006 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, can run the same route and know that it is 3.3 miles."
Users chime in
The Fort Wayne (Ind.) News Sentinel recently featured America's Running Routes, highlighting a high school track coach who makes use of the Web site to create workouts for his team.
"Before, I didn't know how far it was from one street to this street," Larry Stemmler of New Haven High School told the News Sentinel. According to the newspaper, Stemmler has forsaken his old method of measuring running routes in his car, instead turning to America's Running Routes to create and print routes for his athletes.
Another user was even more emphatic about the Web site's business and running potential.
Casey Shafer, employee at Three Rivers Running Co., told the News Sentinel about a friend who recently mapped an 8-mile running route in New York before he left on a business trip for the city.
A race director and blogger, Shafer has posted a link to America's Running Routes from his own blog, where he called it "the greatest Web site of all time." He also recommends the tool to customers at Three Rivers Running.
"A lot of people come back and say that it is the most amazing program they have ever seen," Shafer told the News Sentinel. "It's just point, click and go."
Praise from around the country
America's Running Routes users from around the country have chimed in on how the services has helped their training.
* "I have been using this wonderful feature for the past 6 months. It is terrific. Not only can I exactly plot my runs around Baltimore, which gives me more motivation and a clearer sense of how to design my runs for maximum effect, but I have used the program in other cities. Earlier this year I was in Medford Mass., and got online at the hotel and plotted a beautiful run to Cambridge and back. It was scenic and was basically a runner's tour of Cambridge. Before this program I was of the mind that if I ran in a new city I could expect to get lost for about an hour, and I thought that was part of the charm, but now I can actually see where I'm running to. Thanks to the USATF for putting this runners resource together." - Paul Young-Hyman, Baltimore
*"I love using the USATF Running Routes! I can use it to plan out a route, or after I have finished running, I can check my mileage without having to go back and drive or ride it to figure out the distance. I can do this for a route in the city or in the country, and I didn't have to buy an expensive gadget to figure out my distance, either." - Steve Felde, Arizona
*"I love the ARR database. I have posted a dozen routes on it to get a more accurate measure of training runs. I have also gone on and checked out various races that I planned on running. I really like the hybrid map feature where I can see the terrain features. Great program!" - David Dunham, Massachusetts
* "The USATF/ARR website makes it a breeze to calculate mileage of existing routes or proposed routes. I love it and I hope other people make use of my contributions. And I'm expecting that the next time I have business travel in unfamiliar areas, by turning to ARR, it will be much easier for me to find existing routes that other people have mapped." - Don Libes, Washington, D.C.
For more information
To learn more about America's Running Routes, visit www.usatf.org, and then click on the America's Running Routes icon. America's Running Routes - Run It. Map It. Share It. - A Database of America's Running Routes