Ever wonder what a trail race course really looks like before you run it? Google Maps is working on a way for you to find out.
Three years ago, Google made the Grand Canyon the inaugural subject of its Street View Trekker, a wearable backpack system that allowed 9,500 panoramic images to be shot in areas only accessible by foot. The ability to take Street View to remote, hard-to-navigate places, such as the Grand Canyon, can make those places accessible to a global audience.
Next up is the course of the Western States 100 trail race from Squaw Valley to Auburn, Calif. The American Trail Running Association (ATRA) announced recently it is working in conjunction with Google Maps to digitally map the course of the Western States 100. In June, ATRA will capture panoramic “street-view” imagery of the entire 100-mile Western States trail using Google Map’s backpack-mounted camera system.
The resulting imagery will enable fans of the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run to view the entire length of the trail from the comfort of their home, or on the go with any mobile device. Currently only a few hundred people have the fitness and privilege to run Western States; now anyone with a computer can see what the runners see during their journey from Squaw Valley to the Auburn High School track.
Led by ATRA’s online marketing director Richard Bolt, the expedition of three to four trail runners will hike 20 to 25 miles each day with the 40-pound backpack-mounted camera system during the week of June 20. The expedition will be documented by experienced outdoor photographer Myke Hermsmeyer and trail running news website iRunFar.com.
ATRA’s expedition team will be showing off the trekker backpack system on June 24 at the Western States Expo the day before the official race start.
After the Google Maps team has processed the image data, users will be able to view it on ATRA website at http://trailrunner.com/western-states-trekker or on one of their partner sites. They’ll also have an official image launch event at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, August 3-6, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“By enabling us to experience trails in a new way, the Street View effort is inspiring runners everywhere to explore new places and push their own boundaries,” says Jason Smith of Trail Run Project. “We are excited to support ATRA in this mission to capture one of the world’s most iconic race courses.”
“I think this project is great because it allows everyone to explore the historic Western States trail, whether they are prospective runners, concerned family members, or just those inspired by the original 100-mile footrace,” says Connor Curley, Sports and Community Marketing Associate for Salomon.