16 April 2013


Some months ago, I entertained the idea of making a day trip with my friends from the track club (PPTC) to Boston to watch the marathon in person.  I am usually not a sports spectator, in person or on TV, but many club members were scheduled to run and I want to cheer them on.  I most likely will never qualify for Boston.  My best marathon time is over 5 hours whereas Boston qualified time, for my age group, is like 3 hours and 20 minutes, or whatever nowhere near 5 hours.  But I love taking photos, especially if there are people I know running in the race.

Something came up and I dropped the idea.  The morning of the Boston Marathon, I didn't even feel like watching and instead went about my usual gwriting, with a message for a newlywed friend.  Then came 3pm and social media was abuzz with news of the explosion near the finish line.  I followed the news for hours, on TV and on handheld devices.  It was sad but not surprising.  It seems not a matter of if but when.  I was nowhere near the site of the explosion, but I could have been there.  It happened at an event for a sports that I love.  Sure, living in New York and liking to run in desolate area that is away from civilization, or early or late in the day, any day I can be a statistic in police blotter, but it still gnawed at me.  It can happen anywhere that has many people together, but it still affected me personally because I love the sports of running.

Enough with the brooding, this morning I decided to resume doing what I love.  I thought of just running straight out and back, but then why not make a tribute to the people affected by the bombing as well?  I've been experimenting with GPS writing, or gwriting for short, and got pretty good at it.  Here's the route I took for today's 7 km.  (I would want to make 8 km, my usual daily distance, but the phrase is short and 7 km was all it took.)  Always one to come up with clever names, I call this route "BOSTON BETWEEN US", because the letters fall between Avenue U and Avenue S.

See the route animated here:



  1. very cool, but can you tell me how you managed to create the S without flying over all those buildings on that block?

  2. Thanks, Eric. I drew the S from the bottom up. Midway up the right side I paused the watch and continued my way upward. When I got to the other side of the block I unpaused the watch. The satellite only knew that I was last on one side of the block and all of a sudden appeared on the other side so it drew the line connecting the two positions. With the watch still recording I ran from the left side of the S to the right side, but not all the way down - you don't want the top of the S to meet the middle. I ran back to the left side of the S one more time, paused the watch and ran to the right side and unpaused. Ideally, the two times I paused and unpaused happened at the same precise pair of points but that didn't happen so you have two lines cutting across the block, but luckily the S is still recognizable.

    Same technique was used to make the "a" and the "e" on Earth Day (today!), http://www.qaptainqwerty.com/2013/04/happy-earth-day.html

    1. thanks for the details! never realized that the watch would draw out the gps trace line like that when you pause and restart. I'll have to give this all a try soon. FUN

    2. With that little technique, the possibilities are almost endless. You do have to be mindful of when to pause and un-pause and you will end up running more than what the GPS watch says, but the result is very satisfying. Do share when you have a word or phrase "written", Eric.