This is a test page for Romsey Road Runners’ routes, with some options of possible systems to use.
The criteria should probably be:
1. A web-based mapping service
2. Ideally, with maps that can be embedded in our normal web pages, and printed out
3. That will be easy to use for old people. And young people
4. That does not require account registrations etc for viewing
5. That doesn’t rely overly on any one individual to add routes manually etc
As far as I can tell, there is no built-in method to reliably create run routes with Google maps directly, a 3rd party service is required. Whilst Google does allow you to create driving/walking routes, it does not pick up public footpaths (i.e. rural ones) and when embedded, loses all the tweaks you have made to the route, preferring instead to show you what it thinks is the best route from start to end.
There are quite a few 3rd party systems that allow you to draw a route over the top of Google maps, for example onthegomap.com:
These don’t seem to be very fully featured, (e.g. printing/downloading etc) and of course still don’t show rural footpaths. Moving on then…
Strava is used by many of the club runners already for tracking their runs or rides, for which it generally works by a user recording a route with an app on their phone, or the user using a GPS watch which synchronises the data to their Strava account. We do actually have a Romsey Road Runners club on there: https://www.strava.com/clubs/romsey-road-runners
Strava allows personal routes, which can be either entered manually on the map (which recognises public footpaths), or created from an activity/GPS file. However, there is no way to have routes at a ‘club’ level. The only option is to create a club ‘event’, but even then it’s not clear whether the details can be embedded in other webpages. Even personal ‘routes’ cannot be embedded, only ‘activities’. However, there is a 3rd party service that allows routes to be embedded here. So what we could do is get people to email us the route id number of (or a link to) a Strava route that they want to share, and then we can quite easily put it onto one of our website pages like this:
RidewithGPS is focussed on cycling, but has options to classify routes/activities as ‘runs’.
RidewithGPS supports personal accounts, as well as ‘groups’ and ‘clubs’. Once a ‘group’ is created, anyone can be part of it, and importantly it can have its own set of routes. All routes are embeddable in other webpages, and routes can either be drawn on the map (which includes footpaths!) or created from files from a GPS device. Here is an example of an embedded route (note that the background map style can be changed to/from Google if desired):
You can add point markers (for example to highlight dodgy junctions) and label particular sections of the route (for example for each effort, and/or perhaps the warm up/down routes).
RidewithGPS is free for the most basic level account, which includes 99% of what most of us would use. It has an app that people can use to record their runs if they wish, and an account is not required to view routes. Routes can also be downloaded as GPS files, or even followed in real-time using the RidewithGPS app. Only group admins can add or remove routes to the group, but it is reasonably straightforward, and doesn’t necessarily depend on a single person.
If you like all that, then there is one more option. RidewithGPS offer a ‘club’ account (see here). For sharing routes, this works a little like the ‘group’ described above but is more formal, and has a separate sign-in for admins. People need to be invited and/or sent a link to be part of the ‘club’. But even so, club routes can be made to be either public or hidden to outsiders. The club account is $250 per year, and it extends premium features to all its routes. These include printing of PDF versions of the routes with cue-sheets, offline use of the maps in the app, turn-by-turn navigation in the app and stuff. It also provides a private message board/forum, and the option to track subscriptions.
There is one more feature that I think could be really useful. The club account allows ‘events’ to be scheduled, to create an events calendar. And helpfully, for each of these events, there is an option to select the route. And the calendar is embeddable. What this means for us, is that not only could we have all our routes in one place, we could replace our existing training schedule on the website with the RidewithGPS events calendar, so that anyone can click on a training session coming up and instantly see the route that we will be running. And then they will have the option of using the app to a) follow along in real-time and/or b) record their run. This could also be good for session leaders to have an instant reminder of the route with them on the night.
Ordnance Survey online maps: I got errors trying to import a GPX file, and the manual routing doesn’t snap to roads.
Mapometer: might work well. This looks good: http://riverside-runners.com/training/routes/. However, routes do not snap to rural footpaths, which I think is quite important for us.
gmap-pedometer/Miler-meter: I couldn’t get this to work :-/
Self-hosted: we can use a plugin on our website to display the maps (e.g. wpgpxmaps), and rely on users sending us gpx files, created from whatever method they wish. However, this requires a bit of work from one or two people at the web side of things.
Garmin Connect, Suunto Movescount, Mapmyrun. These were lacking in features for our usage, or I couldn’t evaluate them without handing over cash.
runmap.net is easy but not great management, for example I don’t think you can delete routes you’ve made!:
All food for thought, and for discussion at the next committee meeting maybe…?