Google Earth and Garmin Mashups

The other night I tried taking a Garmin activity and importing it into Google Earth and using the touring feature. The Way Too Cool 50K is a couple of weeks away and like the last couple years I’m going into this race a little undertrained. But a couple of weekends ago, I went out with Lee McKinley and ran a good 21 miles of it. That gave me 2 long runs for the year and I’ll try to get 1 more in this weekend. I took our run and plugged it into Google Earth and here’s the result of that run along the Way Too Cool course viewed through Google Earth.

I thought the video was pretty cool. Sometimes I come back from a run so excited to share some new breathtaking scenery or gold paved trail and I wish there was a way to capture the run. Google Earth is not about to replace the imagery of the trail but it does a decent job of giving a glimpse of some of our routes. And with today’s watches being more GPS, heart rate monitors and pacing partners than actual watches, the possibilities seem endless. Then Nicole said I should try it with my NYC Marathon run. Now, I’m not one to take a big city marathon over a trek through the mountains but the NYC Marathon Tour takes the cake:

Once I worked out some of the issues, the steps to create a Google Earth Tour from a Garmin file are fairly easy.

  1. Export the activity (KML file) from Garmin Connect into Google Earth.
  2. The activity should now show up in the Places window in the Sidebar.
  3. Uncheck the “Check Points” so the route isn’t covered with hundreds of dots.
  4. Right mouse click the activity and use Add…Tour.
  5. Now the hard part, you need to capture the screen using screen capturing software.
  6. Run the tour and capture the screen.
  7. Upload to YouTube.

It took me a couple of nights of playing with different configurations before it would work but it does work and now with a couple of hours of CPU processing, I can create a virtual tour of any marathon, ride or trail run. Most evenings, I’d rather be outside actually seeing and smelling the real scenery, but since it is a dark, cold and raining night it made for a good time to experiment with some of this technology.

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