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Review: Online maps can jog better running routes

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The night before, I used my hotel’s Wi-Fi connection to plot a route that circled the arenas for the opening and closing ceremonies and ice hockey before taking me to False Creek, where the housing for athletes is being built.

I hit the “undo last point” button several times to avoid generating a route that would have been too far or given me too little of the Olympics. Once I found a nice balance, I hit “save” to generate a unique Web address I can keep and share with others.

Earlier, in Los Angeles, the auto-route feature proved useful in navigating the curvy paths along Southern California’s beaches. Gmap also knew I shouldn’t run through people’s homes, so it had me turn at the nearest intersection.

As Gmap automatically filled out the route, its calculations were pretty close: a quarter-mile short of the 15.02 miles (24.17 kilometers) reported by a GPS unit I carried on the run.

I had to turn off that auto-routing feature for my Olympics run, though. Although Gmap was smart enough to let me run the wrong way on one-way streets, it didn’t know all the recreational paths I saw on tourist maps. (A setting for cyclists does respect traffic laws.)

My main complaint is Gmap’s inability to track runs by users. I must remember the Web address to access a saved run, and I cannot create an account to store all my runs at one place. I also cannot search for recommendations from other runners.

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