Running maps are a fascinating corner of the mapping space. In February 2011, I worked on my first running map
with a very early version of TileMill,
simply overlaying scaled points representing heart rates over DC.
By July there was an improved version, which used a custom algorithm to
turn running data into a multiple-width line
and wrapped the map in a unique interface
that displayed BPM via TileMill-generated interactivity.
Running data is really compelling for a number of reasons. Data that comes
from a GPS watch, like my Garmin
Forerunner 305, can have heart rate, pace, altitude, and location for each
An updated map (127 runs) using fast, experimental filters in Mapnik.
Common data types like GeoJSON have no
way of representing this sort of data, which is why Garmin uses its
semi-proprietary TCX format.
GPSBabel, an open-source file converter,
has been an essential tool in bridging these gaps, along with the
A wiggle stereogram of
run elevation, made with pre3d,
node-canvas, and gifsicle.
Here these variables are visualized for a dataset of 127 runs,
a custom node.js script which uses
node-canvas for rasterization.
It’s also an extremely personal sort of data - the aggregate of many
runs will highlight your favorite routes, like you can see on Ben Watts’s
Ottawa running map.
We’re experimenting with new ways to represent runs, with animation, rotation,
and sync'ed visualization. There’s much
more to come.