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The cost would be too much I assume. The Shortest Possible Route would have to be measured, which would make it very difficult to accomplish.

If the course didn't curve and was basically straight it could work, but probably would take much time. We do allow this done for calibration courses as they are short and done on a straight path approximately 300 meters.

I can point to one time when a calibration course was done by what you suggests. When it was checked with a steel tape it was found to be wrong. We had Five "A" Measurers there to verify this course with two different steel tapes.

I look forward to other comments on this topic.

One last point, what would the basic charge for a 26 mile plus race that is point to point on winding roads?
The professional surveyor might take a page from the Japanese. Years ago I heard a fascinating presentation from a Japanese delegation to a measuring conference in Korea, where they explained how they measured a marathon using calibrated steel wires (100 m in length) and a huge working team (scores of engineering students I believe) to lay out an entire marathon.

They had 2 different 100 m wires sort of hopscotching I believe; a team of people to give line; recorders; and at any turn they would have a team of assistants to hold pikes at a 30 cm offset from the curb.

Perhaps long straight stretches could be more efficiently done now, with electronic measurement. You don't see surveyors pulling steel tapes that often any more.
In 1985 I certified a course measured by a Professional Land Surveyor, Robert Vernon. In Measurement News #11, from 1985, I wrote a short piece about it. As far as I know, it is the only certified road course measured by a surveyor. It's identified as OH85038PR.

If you go to you can read that issue. The piece is short. See it below:


Bob Vernon is a professional surveyor in Marietta, OH. He’s also a runner and race director. He called me and asked if it was OK if he measured his course using steel-tape tangents (5 ft) on the curves and EDM on the straightaways. I said that if he stuck to the SPR such a procedure would be fine. He did a beautiful job, and his map shows the loving care that went into the work. He says that there were about 45 field hours involved and another 25 in the office. It would have cost about $2600 if not done as a volunteer labor of love. The course is the “Shamrock Classic” 5 mile in Devola, OH (Oh 85038 PR) and if anybody knows of another completely-surveyed course, let me know. As far as I know this course, which few top runners will ever run, is the most accurate course ever measured, excluding those big-city straight-line miles. This one is real, even including 1.3 miles of dirt road.

The certification map is shown below. It is quite hard to read. I was reluctant to ask the measurer to do it over, as he had included a ton of detail. He was unaware of our “one piece of paper” requirement, and submitted a 2 feet by 3 feet blueprint.

He measured the long parts using EDM and taped the corners in short bits.

The map follows. I wanted to check the course using Google Earth, but couldn’t squint hard enough.

Last edited by peteriegel
I assume that means $2600 in 1985. With an inflation rate of 3%/year that would be a little over $6000 today.

Do you know if the course is still intact, or has there been construction that changed parts? 29 years is a long time.

Like you say, the scanned version is hard to read. Do you still have the original blueprint?

I don't have the blueprint any more, and I don't know whether the course remains intact. The roads appear on Google Earth, but the exact points are unreadable.

I think I'll see what a search for "Shamrock Classic" reveals. Small-town races sometimes last long. I have one here in Upper Arlington that I first measured at least thirty years ago, and it has not changed a jot.


Just now got an email from son Stu, who was registrar for a few years while we were transitioning from paper to electronic files.

He has found the blueprint! He is pouring concrete today and will send me some full-size scans of the 11x17 inch blueprint.

More when I have more.
Last edited by peteriegel
Length Check of Shamrock Classic

I received scans of the original blueprint from Stu yesterday. After some squinting I was able to tie down the start and finish.

Start is located on T551, 616.42 feet north of the center of T549.

Finish is located 128.9 feet north of centerline of drive to Park. A finish line is visible on the pavement.

Start and finish are separated by 1050.08 feet.

I measured the course using Google Earth. You can see my result below, except for the length I obtained.

Challenge: Measure the course and send me your Google Earth result at riegelpete(at) Don’t post it here. When I collect a few measurements I’ll post all of them.

I don’t think the blueprint file will give you anything more that you need, but if you want it, send me an email.
Last edited by peteriegel
I have data from 4 measurers so far, closely grouped. I found that practice makes perfect, and learned some tricks.

Here is how I think the best measurement evidence will be generated:

1. Using Google Earth, begin with a virgin map with nothing on it.
2. Using previous data, put a mark at the start and finish.
a. The Start is 616.42 feet north of the center of road T-549
b. The Finish is 128.9 feet north of the center of the driveway to the park. There is a very faint paintmark at the proper location, visible by squinting or using Street View.

3. With Start and Finish marked, measure the course in one go. When you are done, save the file as a GE .kmg file.

a. Click on the measure line and read the length in feet.

b. Use high magnification when needed at corners.

c. If path is obscured, go back in time, and get an unobscured view. This will not interrupt a measurement that you may have in progress.

d. If you make a "bad click" which is way off the line you want, just give it a right-click. Each right click will erase the last point entered. You don't have to start over!

The more times you do this the shorter will be the resultant measurement. Measure as tight as you can, but do not leave the road surface. Pretty soon you will see that you cannot improve significantly. You will have measured the SPR.

If you are satisfied that you have got it as good as you can, let me know and send me the kmg file. Remember - only one measure line in the file!

I have noticed that if I collect kmg’s in my GE program, clicking on one of them will sometimes give me the wrong kmg. So I store them in another folder, and save nothing in the GE program.

The basic course was measured by EDM and taping and mapped by Bob Vernon in 1985, and certified by me. The certificate map was reduced from Bob’s 11x17 inch blueprint. Fortunately, former Course Registrar Stu Riegel recovered the original blueprint and it was made available to all for this exercise.

Five measurers submitted one or more measurements, supported by .kmz files readable in Google Earth. They were:

Pete Riegel
Mark Neal
Stu Riegel
Ken Hardwick
Bob Thurston

Measurements obtained (not in same order as measurer list) were:
26467 (an error in locating the start. Corrected to 26422)

Three measurers were adept at Google Earth. The other two grasped the principle but had a rough time dealing with the Google Earth program.

As 5 miles including SCPF is 26426.4 feet, it looks like there is good agreement between Vernon’s course and the Google measurements obtained by the participants.

Since the original course contained just over a mile of straight gravel road including two gravelly corners, it is unlikely that the course survives in its exact original configuration, but it’s likely to be close.

I’m not sure exactly what this exercise proves, but I find the agreement pleasing.

My thanks to the participants.

More is welcome should any more wish to participate, but please do your own posting.

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