Heatmappers Anonymous

Heatmappers Anonymous is a support group for heatmap addicts who can't run the same route twice.

Heatmappers Anonymous logo

My name is David P. I’m a runner and I’m addicted to heatmapping.

My addiction goes way back. At first I tried old school heatmapping with a large paper street map and a highlighter.

Later I tried cooking up my own heatmap in Photoshop using screenshots of routes I had run layered on top of each other with the opacity set low enough to see them all intertwining on my screen.

Then, in 2014, one of the popular kids I knew back in the day hooked me up with some mind-blowing stuff that turned my running life upside down: Strava.

I’ve been aware of my tendency to want to run different streets and trails for a long time and I used to think I was alone in the darkness. Or alone in broad daylight, clutching a scrap of paper with a roughly-sketched map to remind myself approximately where I was going. I zig-zagged for hours with my demons through street after street after unfamiliar street. I was going nowhere really, and I was covering a lot of ground in the process.

On Strava, I soon discovered I wasn’t alone. There were heatmap addicts everywhere. The heatmapping epidemic even made the news in stories of city planners studying the movements of these GPS junkies in an effort to make cities more efficient for bike and pedestrian traffic. Personally, I watched perfectly normal, talented runners descend into madness as they meandered their way through endless, often questionably-planned neighbourhoods at all hours of the day and night. From Mitch L. to Oleg T. to Michael S., heatmapping had grown men and women with GPS devices weaving through neighbourhoods they had never set foot in before and seeing places they’d never seen before, their eyes opening and their minds expanding with every stride. It was madness.

It was with these brave runners in mind that I founded Heatmappers Anonymous, a support group for heatmap addicts by heatmap addicts. HA is is a place for heatmap addicts to feel safe with their OCD or whatever it is that keeps them running. I don’t know where Heatmappers Anonymous will go from here, but if it helps just one runner with his heatmapping, I will consider it a success.

We’re all in this together, my brothers and sisters, and together we will rule the world! Or at least run it.

Dave's Strava Vancouver Heatmap to July 11, 2016
This is your brain on Strava.

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