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Interesting question, Toni. However, I would like to get back to the first digression on this thread.

I do not imagine that RRTC will elect to require all maps to be created in an electronic format any time soon, if ever. The ease of Open Office use and the fine work by Mark Neal on map creation notwithstanding. Maybe some day, as subsequent generations of measurers who are more digitally-oriented come on line. Until then, crappy maps will be submitted. All of us have seen them on

I volunteer to help spearhead an initiative: to actively promote electronic map creation. Who can doubt that some day, hand-drawn maps, as fine as some of them are, will become the buggy whips of course certification? So, why shouldn't we get a handle on this benefit now instead of waiting until the lousy map issue becomes embarrassing?

Mark has done some fine work creating the Open Office tutorial. We can begin the process of eliminating the "garbage in" part of the map problem by asking all measurers who submit a course to download Mark's package and attempt to use it to create the next map they submit. After a year or two of requesting digital map submissions, we could begin to require it.

Without excessive expense, we could create video tutorials for newbies. These videos will take them through the entire process of downloading and installing open office, and how to create clear, accurate, and complete maps using the drawing program. For those of us who use Illustrator or Corel Draw, we could do a tutorial based on Duane's fine work.

After we make electronic maps a requirement - OK - this could take a few years - we could set up a system where a new measurer who does not have the skills nor the time to learn them for a particular certification, could submit the raw info to persons in RRTC who would create the map for a modest, reasonable fee.

None of us want to create barriers to entry to measuring, so this system of "farming out" map drawing would eliminate that potential problem. I believe this will also give USATF and RRTC a more professional image with the public. This brings up another consideration, which I will bring up in a different forum - that is, presenting a more professional image overall.

Anyway, now that we are moving towards electronic submissions, why shouldn't we carry this one step further and facilitate the creation of electronic maps, thereby raising the overall quality level of our work?
Lyman, You just don't get it! Most people aren't as good as you and Mark. As I stated to you, we are working with our Certiers submitting maps/certicates electronically. The West Vice Chair is doing an outstanding job. However, the east is being done slowly as I'm working individually with our Certifiers.

You also don't understand the process that must be followed to maintain a check and balance of all of our submissions. A measurers submissions are first submitted to their Regional Certifier, who checks all aspects of one having their race certified. Next, the Certicate is passed on to a Vice Chair. The VC checks the Certificate/map and if all is approved, then it's passed onto the Registrar for a final check.

Map drawing is a different story. You and Mark have a good way to do maps and I commend both of you. However, to expect all to do it this way is unreasonable. I called you and expected a return call. Give me a call and we can discuss your concerns.

As for your opinion that maps aren't good enough, that's your opinion.

Now, for the topic on this post! Toni, two certicates would cure this problem. I assume the races did their owm measurements here unless one race gave permission to use their course and have their own name on a certificate.
Last edited by genenewman
Mandating hand drawn maps!
I'm pretty good with computers and software but sometimes I think a well done hand drawn map may actually do a better job describing a course.
Last winter I measured and Certified a 5 mile course in Wantagh, NY. The course has many short turns that were unclear in every online map I could find. I was not confident that others would be able to follow computer generated maps so I spent many hours hand drawing it.
The map may not look like much but it works.
Long live the dinosaurs!
Mark, Your idea about no hand drawn maps in my view is wrong. I agree with David!

The question to ask is why is one seeking this approach? Lyman first wanted to submit his color maps. Next, he wanted to increase the limits on what USATF would accept. Then, he wanted all to make electronic submission and now no handrwan maps. Wow!

What next!
I believe (and hope) that Mark was suggesting the requirement, with tongue in cheek.

If someone is measuring for the first time, that task in and of itself is daunting. Then, to require that they teach themselves how to create a digital map would simply overwhelm most newbie or one-timers. That could (rightly) be construed as us trying to force races to use our services.

As far as Lyman's suggesting of farming-out the map; if someone is measuring a course gratis, which many are, they would not want to pay one of us to make the map. Then, we would have even less control over what the map contains, and the file parameters. Not a good idea, in my opinion.

Even David's hand-drawn map is very clear, and there is no reason to require it to be digitized. The only digitization I would encourage is to do a clean scan into a PDF. If done correctly, the Certifier can add cert info, and pass it along. But, if folks want to snail-mail the paperwork, that is up to them.

I receive many maps that are not the correct size or resolution, and they are emailed to me as PDF files. Seems simple to me - set the scanner to output a Letter size file at 300 dpi, and it should be done. Not so easy, though. My scanner, using those settings, outputs to 8 3/8 x 11 1/8. I have to manually override settings, in order to get what I need. I have been digital for years, so it is attainable for me. For someone who is not digitally fluent, there is virtually no chance of them discovering the nuance they need to adjust to get the file that we need.

While I encourage color, and PDF files, I know full well that there are still many out there that don't want to, or can't, produce digital files. We can accommodate them without any problem. No "digital-only" rules, in my opinion.
My tongue was only partially in my cheek.

David's map looks great, and there are many measurers like him who do a wonderful job of hand-drawing maps. My suggestion has nothing to do with those "dinosaurs" as David describes them. They would live on.

I think outlawing hand-drawn maps for first-time measures is probably going too far, but I think we should at least encourage them to consider making electronic maps rather than hand-drawn. The current manual gives 7 examples of maps, and 6 of them are hand-drawn. And the manual gives no guidance in how to go about making an electronic map. Maybe we should update the manual to give a little more guidance in creating electronic maps.
Last edited by Admin
I think hand drawn maps are just fine if you can understand the map and they are dark enough to make copies or scan in. I know when I first started drawing maps they were hand drawn and not very good and I went to Illustrator because I wanted the race director to get a professional looking map. They are still not that good in my eyes but they are 100% better than my early hand drawn maps. Plus they are very easy to make changes to if you need to change something. I like the way Duane does things and I would not mind to one day maybe pick his brain about how he does things and maybe I could use some of his technique in my measuring.
I'm not sure which thread this belongs now but -

There is another good reason to keep the maps in black and white - race logistics.

I work as the technical director for about 70+ events a year and always need to distribute copies of the course. Unfortunately I don't have the luxury of having a color printer available all the time.

Even more important, ALL maps regardless of computer prepared or hand drawn should clearly indicate where on the road the runners are allowed to run - especially taking turns. I have done some spot checking and even some posters here (and I have been just as quilty) have a few holes in their maps!

Our maps need to be working documents and should all of the basics for a race director, course dirctor, or validator to do their jobs.
I suspect the title of this thread casts the conversation in a less-than-favorable light. My guess is that, if hand-drawn maps ever get to be a thing of the past, it will happen only because the general public becomes more digitally literate than it is today. I would wager this will take at least a couple of decades. When folks can create hand-drawn maps like this little masterpiece by Bob Thurston Marathon Map by Bob Thurston , who would ever say they need to use software to create maps? Of course, the majority of us do not have this kind of artistic skill.

My intent in opening this topic (thanks for segregating the threads, Mark) is to think about the future of map creation. Since Mark and others here have done such a fine job of presenting and explaining the free options with which to draw clear maps, it seems to me it behooves us to make these tools better known to measurers and then encourage them to use them - not to require them.

I laid out two race courses early yesterday morning working with two hand-drawn certification maps that each had two incorrect street names, and no cross street names where needed to readily locate splits and to ascertain the race route. Most vexing, an incomplete representation of a divided highway on which it turned out the permit required the race to run only on one side of, in a single coned-off lane. The maps showed only a single lane, no median, and no cone lane. It would have been easy to take runners on the wrong side of the highway here had the police not been on site to show the permitted route. Would digitally-produced maps have prevented all these problems? Probably not. However, I contend that the digital map production process, regardless of the software used, has a better chance of being accurate if for no other reason than it uses a digital image of some kind over which the race route is traced. Had this process been used for my races yesterday, I bet that divided highway would have been picked up and represented as such on the maps.

As mentioned previously, many maps I have seen on present a less-than-professional image. I contend that, if we start taking some small steps now towards encouraging more digitally-drawn maps, we can all benefit. Mark recommends what I consider a good first step: updating the manual to include his basic tutorial on creating electronic maps.

As a next step, what harm could there be in asking state certifiers to forward a link to Mark's tutorial to all measurers who submit hand-drawn maps with a recommendation to consider using digital methods? Who can doubt that at some future year, the majority of USATF certification maps will be digitally-drawn?
Last edited by pastmember
I totally missed this exchange when it was going on. Just confused by the link in Lyman's last post, I can't find a Thurston map on there (what am I missing?).

My late 2 cents: I agree with David, these are meant to be working documents. Neither electronic or hand-drawn maps offer any guarantee that critical info will be on there, it depends on the map itself.

One thing about hand-drawn that is often overlooked is how easy it is to intentionally distort the scale to make sure we show critical details where needed. I reckon it can be done electronically too but I'm not sure how much that happens, except for things like road width and elevation profiles. (?)
Originally posted by Bob Thurston:
I totally missed this exchange when it was going on. Just confused by the link in Lyman's last post, I can't find a Thurston map on there (what am I missing?).

My late 2 cents: I agree with David, these are meant to be working documents. Neither electronic or hand-drawn maps offer any guarantee that critical info will be on there, it depends on the map itself.

One thing about hand-drawn that is often overlooked is how easy it is to intentionally distort the scale to make sure we show critical details where needed. I reckon it can be done electronically too but I'm not sure how much that happens, except for things like road width and elevation profiles. (?)

Sorry, Bob. Google changed Picasa for the Web and I did not keep up with the new way to link. I re-posted your map and updated the URL above. This is it: Marathon map by Bob Thurston . You are right about scale distortion. Some of your maps are very clever at condensing the area so that the map fits and is readable. Electronically, I tend to use a to-scale tracing of an on line map and then just widen the roads. This can map for a larger than necessary map that must be reduced in size to an unreadable version. Color helps, but it is only one tool.

I guess my newest challenge to master in my electronic map creation will be to mimic your super not-to-scale hand-drawn maps.

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