San Francisco from the perspective of runners

Newer Older

After seeing Cooper Smith's visualizations of data from runners in New York City, I wanted to see what similar data sets would look like for other cities. Nike+ doesn't have public GPS logs, but MapMyRun does, if you are willing to spend several hours clicking through search results to hit the "Download" buttons, so that's what I did to get the tracks for these 771 runs (from June 13 through August 9) in San Francisco.

As Open Source Planning has pointed out, uploaded runs come from a fairly small, self-selected group of people, the most obvious result of which is the total absence of the southeastern corner of the city from this map. It is also a very self-conscious process, so it is biased toward intentional, and often intentionally difficult, trips made for their own sake, and away from the repetitive patterns of everyday life.

Unfortunately the MapMyRun tracklogs do not have date and time stamps, so it is not possible to do the time of day, pace, and interruption analyses that Cooper Smith did. I should have done direction of travel, though.

tristanmillward, Dan Ancona, Ross, and 35 other people added this photo to their favorites.

  1. Dan Ancona 45 months ago | reply

    That is so awesome. I think some of my goofy twin peaks routes (more of a slog/crawl than a run, for me) are in there!

  2. Eric Fischer 45 months ago | reply

    Thanks for making your tracklogs public!

  3. tristanmillward 45 months ago | reply

    Being a runner myself, with no knowledge of this city, its very interesting, I keep admiring the contrast between the forced grid routes and the organic flowing routes, and wonder what objects they are navigating around.
    Its also interesting to see that there are lots of runs logged in the city grid, when my architectural knowledge and running patterns would say to never run those routes, due to traffic, pollution, having to stop, and generally having lots of people walking in your way.

  4. Transit Nerds 45 months ago | reply

    This is interesting from a topography standpoint as well. Eric if you look at the two lines in Noe Valley along Church and Sanchez, if you go from 24th to 30th it's more or less flat and a 1.75-2 mile loop. I run it a lot because of this, and glad to see that it shows up here at frequented by other runners.

  5. boxdogbikes 45 months ago | reply

    Very cool,

    Have you thought about doing a similar project with Strava data or data from They will add more data rich elements to the graphic.


  6. Eric Fischer 45 months ago | reply

    Oh, I did not know about Strava and trainingpeaks! I will be happy to incorporate their data, especially if there is a good way to download lots of it. (So far I see that you have to have a premium account on trainingpeaks to export data, and it doesn't sound like Strava has exports at all.) Someone also pointed me to as another source.

  7. boxdogbikes 45 months ago | reply

    You could probably just call them. Strava, at least, is local.

  8. Eric Fischer 45 months ago | reply

    It can't hurt to ask!

  9. morozgrafix 45 months ago | reply

    There is also a and they just opened their API which may me helpful.

  10. Eric Fischer 45 months ago | reply

    Thanks! I will check out runkeeper.

  11. chrïs 45 months ago | reply

    RunKeeper is really nice for tracking other activities as well (cycling, hiking, skiing, swimming etc.).

  12. Maggie+Kevin 39 months ago | reply


    What did you use to visualize this? drop me a note at kevin@(the site where you got the gps files). I'm working on some interesting visuals and would love to compare notes.

    Co-Founder / MapMyRun

keyboard shortcuts: previous photo next photo L view in light box F favorite < scroll film strip left > scroll film strip right ? show all shortcuts