UW-Eau Claire Professor Maps for the Olympic Marathon Course

Dr. Shawn Harnett, a professor of geography at UW-Eau Claire, stood with marathon runners Paul Tergat and Haile Gebreselassie at the 2011 Berlin Marathon World Records.

For the second time in the last three Olympics, U.N. Claire Geography professor Dr. Shawn Hartnet has prepared a marathon course profile map for competitors, coaches, media and fans.

The Tokyo Olympic Women’s and Men’s Marathon will be held in Sap Roro, northern Japan, on August 7 and 8 (Friday and Saturday nights in the United States) due to overheating in Tokyo.

As the new road in Saporo was being completed, they met course designer and designer David Katz Harnett and asked if the geography professor could create the same high-profile maps for the 2012 London Marathon and the Atlanta American Marathon last year.

“Fortunately, Japan has excellent Google Earth LIDAR (light detection and various) high resolution and street views,” Hartnet said. After David sent me a graphic GPS file with the correct course path and mileage markers, I could make an accurate map and height profile from my sofa.

Instead of letting athletes estimate the heights from the profile line, Harnetnet prints the exact height at the base of the graph. The marathon also includes relevant information on procedures such as water, fluid and timing stations, and rotation areas and types.

The maps were first inspired by Paul Tergat of Kenya in 2003, setting a world marathon record of 2:04:55 and serving as a member of the International Olympic Committee since 2013.

A.D. As he was preparing for the hilly New York City Marathon in 2005, he asked me to draw a map with all the course details, saying, “Get your mind around.” As we were going to the top graph and I was guessing and naming the hills, Paul suggested to print only the height on the map.

After a draft map was prepared for the SAPR course, Hartnet worked with Alecio Pedde, head of the World Athletics Marathon, with international track and field governing body and assistant Benjamin Rux to recruit world athletics fonts, colors, and logos. They have developed a standard design template that can be used for future championships marathon.

The Sartoro Marathon course is “boring in the area compared to London and Atlanta courses,” says Hartnet.

“Both London and Atlanta had many rolling hills, with many ups and downs, not major ones,” Harnett said. “Saproro is a coastal river town at the foot of the mountains, and its roads are well designed for drainage.

Although the course is flat and fast by Olympic standards, Harnett says, the biggest environmental hurdle for athletes is the 70-plus degrees expected in all competitions in Saporo.

Since 1985, Harnett has covered more than 250 track and field news, including the last 250 Olympics and men’s and women’s marathons. This year, he will be watching live TV shows on the map, watching the competitions on the hills and taking turns to report on Saporo from a distance.

Hartnet can be reached at hartnesg@uwec.edu.

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