A brief history
Absolutely the idea for this guide was spawned after spending a few years of reading and moderating the CoolRunning Messageboards, and seeing the same types of questions come time after time ... where to run ... where to buy shoes ... where to get orthotics. The answers are in the Messageboards somewhere but its hard to find them in a timely manner.
On 15th July 2002, I made a post to the MessageBoards saying :
One of my "wish list" items is a runners guide to Australia where people write in with best places to run all over the place (I know its a bit like the Run The Planet) but I think we could do a good job. There is no reason it could not be extended to include tracks, runners shops and other runner amenities. I am just trying to work out how interactive to make it eg a) email details to me to post or b) allow runners to make their own entries. (and of course find the time to set it up). I favour b) but this is much more effort to set up.
I seem to remember being influenced by the book, See How We Run (a dead web link now).
By 6th September, 2002, I had developed the idea a little bit more :
The "Australian Running Guide" Project, is currently an idea that goes like this... Lots of people travel to Australia for holidays. Lots of people in Australia go on holiday, or move from place to place. Lots of people start running from scratch and don't know where to start.
Many of the questions on this message board are of the flavour : where are the tracks in Sydney .. where are the best places to buy shoes .. best places to run .. best races etc.
The "Australian Running Guide" is like a never-ending project that will pick various towns and cities and will cover this basic information. Runners can add to it (hey you missed the xyz running shop/ track etc). I imagine that a big component of it would be the best places to run section, where runners would contribute articles on their favourite runs, maybe include photos, maps, where to get water on the run etc.
The beauty of it is that the info is contributed by runners who live there, or maybe go on holiday (every time I go away I have to scout out the best sites from scratch). Also as it is a website, we are not restricted to quanitity of data, and of course can link to maps/info etc that already exist elsewhere.
I had planned to start with Sydney and encourage others to do the same for their hometown, or holiday location. (Obviously big places like Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane etc) will grow over time. There is no reason why it can't get down to the level of smaller places .. like Noosa, Bateman's Bay, Albury etc.
How about I draft a template and start filling in the data for Sydney and then have a call for volunteers to help out with other places ? For the time being I would probably have a nominated volunteer for each place to coordinate the data. CoolRunning will provide each volunteer with an account so that they can post their own data duirectly to the CoolRunning site. We have ooodles of disk space available so that we are not under any restrictions.
The idea was well received and lots of people were keen to help, but we didn't really do anything about it until late 2003 when we decided to get serious. Actually it was Whale Boy that helped prod the discussion along - I am sure that everyone was beginning to inwardly cringe when the same topics were being raised, but no one could find the previous threads to refer people to.
Around Christmas 2003 I found a link to a website community who are building the largest free encyclopaedia in the world - called [Wikipedia], and I realised that maybe THAT was the software we should use .... I then remember sitting in a cafe in Burwood NSW one midnight drinking coffee with Mister G when I realised what a great idea it was - you can now SEE the result of that idea.
Kevin Tiller, March 2004