Knee Knacker course map leaves out grid lines

The Knee Knacker, the gruelling 30 mile North Shore trail race that people are glad just to finish just announced a new and improved course map for the race.


Knee Knacker map: screenshot from

To quote

We have a new and improved course map for you! The map was pro­duced by the Dis­trict of North Van­cou­ver, Geo­graphic Infor­ma­tion Sys­tems depart­ment. But before you click the link to view/download it, beware–you may end up star­ing at it for a few hours which could (a) psych you out, or (b) seri­ously dis­rupt your sleep pat­tern! To view the map, go here.

I never saw the old course map, so I can’t say whether this is an improvement but I’m not impressed.

Major Flaws

First, this new map does not have a navigational grid. This is what allows a user of the map to use a GPS coordinate to find their position on the map, and vice versa — to use the map to determine the GPS coordinates of a feature. Without this the map is not very useful for navigation.

Sure, you can use the street names and the sign posts on the trail to cross reference your location, but if you take a wrong turn and don’t see any trail signs you are faced with dead reckoning.

Second, the map has no contours. For a race that promotes itself as difficult, partially because of elevation gain and loss, and is run on trails going up and down mountains, I would think that having a topographic map would be obvious! The contours allow people to use an altimeter along with their GPS to pinpoint their position, and to plan for the steepness of various course segments.

Neither of these two criticisms may be an issue on race day when there are other runners, course marshals, aid stations and such, but publishing the map on the web site means that people might use it for hiking.

This is NOT a map to recommend to anyone for hiking! 

I have rescued several people who got lost with maps like these. They had a GPS, and a compass, but when they tried to used them they realized that a map like this can’t be used to figure out where you are unless you already have a good idea.

I would hope that the GIS people at the district of North Vancouver might take some time to correct these problems.

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  1. […] Update: Coquitlam SAR Manager Michael Coyle has rightly noted this map should not be used as a navigational map on the trails. It is great for perusing on your computer at home to get a general lay of the land and trails, but should not be used in replace of a proper topo map for navigation. His post his here. […]

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