Location Tracking: Off

Hi folks,

Reading through this piece in the New York Times was pretty scary: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy.

This website has long had a feature that would center the map on your location so you could more easily find events close to you. I've never sold your location data (nor ever been asked for this or any other data--being small has its perks), but to help us all feel slightly better, I've turned this feature off. You'll have to pan and zoom to see what's happening in your neck of the woods.

In other news, I'm not as active as I once was about keeping the event list up to date, and for that I apologize. One reason is that I'm not as active in racing as I once was (young kids seem to have that effect), but I will keep working on it.

Thanks for the support,


Donations now accepted on Ko-fi

Quick update that adds on to a previous post. In addition to Liberapay, you can also support this site on Ko-fi. All donations are welcome and never expected--if you don't want to donate, go race and do other awesome things.


NPA Funded on Liberapay

Instead of Google Adsense to help offset the costs associated with this website (primarily hosting), I've opened an account at Liberapay, which lets anyone "tip" the website--anonymously--on a weekly basis. Althogh a small transfer fee is charged, Liberapay doesn't take a cut; they are supported by tips themselves.

If you find value here, whether it be in the event listings, the map format, the exclusive race reports, or even the Twitter interactions, feel free to tip.  Even $0.10 a week will buy me a fancy coffee every year. Receiving a total of $2.60 per week in tips will cover hosting and domain fees.

Contributions are never expected, but are always appreciated.  As always, if there is a way you think I can improve the website, please let me know.

Bonus: If you add/update events on the site and want a cut of the proceeds, make a Liberapay account and drop me a line at [email protected]. I'll add you to the team.

- Matt

P.S.  Although I am attempting to avoid network ads, I am still open to hosting ads from regional races or businesses where appropriate.  NPA will only share aggregate information (pageviews, etc.) with advertisers, and will never share your email address or profile information with third parties.

(This supercedes http://northernplainsathletics.com/node/1667.)

Easier Editing

Just added the option to logged-in ("authenticated") users to see an edit or new draft link at the top of event pages. This should let you update the page as needed (directly) rather than submitting a duplicate event or using the [+] Feedback system or email/Twitter/whatever. When you click save, I'll be notified and I can publlish your updates.

You don't even need to be the event director or original author to update the information--how 'bout them apples?

Thanks for visiting,


[email protected]

We're Green

In a good way. I was thinking tonight that in addition to helping people drive less and supporting local races, I could throw some extra money towards carbon credits or similar offsets for this website. Websites use energy, even the good ones, and we can't just sweep that under the rug. Then I remembered who the host is: GreenGeeks. Green is in the name, and that was one of the reasons I chose them a few years back. From the horse's mouth:

In order to compensate for the polluting power we pull from the grid we purchase wind energy credits for the energy we consume from the grid. In fact we replace, with wind power, 3 times the amount of energy used by our servers, so if we pull 1X of power from the grid we purchase enough wind energy credits to put back into the grid 3X of power having been produced by wind power. Your website hosted with GreenGeeks will be powered by 300% wind energy, making your website's carbon footprint negative!

You can read more here.

Well, that was an easy way to make some small difference in the world! If you'd like to contribute to keeping the site alive (and buying that wind energy), drop some coins in the jar weekly at Gratipay.



I've been on quite a burn of updating race information this week, which always makes me consider the philosophy behind this website. What is NPA, and why is it here?

Simply enough, I like to race, but being torn among multiple time obligations makes it harder than it used to be. The real killer is the full-time job, but it definitely pays better than grad school, so I think I'll keep it for now. The original cause was money: gas prices were high, races were far away, and I was poor. Now it's time: I can't take an entire weekend to travel to a race. I imagine 90% of people are in the same boat.

One question I imagine people have is "why is it a map, not a list?" followed by "why can't I look at dates more easily?" I struggle with the second one more. It's a map because the goal is to minimize the amount of time and money spent traveling (sorry, local visitor and convention bureaus). Maps are easy to understand, and the system on other sites of filtering a list down by selecting a state/city/zip code is just dreadful when we have better tools available. 

The date question? Well, mostly I don't have a good handle on the best way to show dates on a map. I've considered color codes (<1 week, 1-4 weeks, >4 weeks, etc.) but haven't implemented them. If you have an idea, get in touch and let's develop it.

The last bit of philosophy is about the volume of information avaiable on NPA. I've kept it as simple as possible in order to reduce errors. The least amount you should know about a race is when it is, where it is, and where to get more information. Name and description are secondary; and type/category/discipline? That's just extravagance. 


Race Feedback

It's always interesting getting feedback on races. This comic (from Death Bulge) comes to mind every time I get a survey back.



Just Being

I studied abroad in Townsville, QLD, Australia from February to June 2014 (our spring, their fall). I ran a lot while I was there, mostly at night, and managed my highest-mileage week ever (somewhere above 45 miles, a massive amount for someone who still thinks of himself as middle-distance). There were a ton of trails down by the river that ran by the edge of campus and down to the sea, and I would run in the darkness in order to avoid the blistering heat and sun of the day. At the time I was also leaving myself a good three hours after eating before running--something I no longer do (last night I ate dinner and took off 20 minutes later).

The dorm I lived in at James Cook University (West Hall represent) wasn't air conditioned. I'm not sure if it was heated, but I survived into late fall. There was a screened-in porch, some venetian windows, and that was it--so if it was hot outside, you were pretty hot inside. I'd come back from running seven or eight miles, dripping sweat. I think I sweat more during that semester than any time I have before or since. What the dorm did have was a separate common building (meeting space, pool table, TV), and that did have AC. I'd go in there at 11 o'clock at night, crank the AC, and stretch (I used to stretch back then, too.) Once the heat faded and that sore muscle feeling crept in, I could relax and head back to shower.

The memory of running that semester came back to me last night as I ran along the banks of the Red River of the North in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. Running at night has almost been a rule rather than an exception for me. Beyond that semester in Oz, winter practices in college were generally cold, dark, and windy. The darkness can eliminate distractions, and the effort can calm my mind.

I ran up to my back gate, looked at my watch, and realized progress had been made. I sat on the steps and took off my shoes. It's warm enough to do that now, and I think I'm okay with that.

I'm a Father!

In late December, we welcomed our daughter into the world a month early. She's doing great now, and I couldn't be happier, even if I still get super stressed out by not being able to stop her from crying. Protip: that shushing thing really does work, you just need to do it LOUDLY and into her ear.

What does this mean? For my wife, it means getting to run and ride again. For me, it means less racing and more family time. I'm doing what I can to keep everything going between work, home, NPA, and other responsibilities (*cough* ENDracing). The work I do now has more meaning. It's not just about helping people find local races and build stronger endurance sport communities, it's about giving my daughter the chance to join those communities at a younger age than I ever got to.

But only if she wants to, of course.

Consolidating (Your Links May Change)

From the beginning, events on NPA have been posted as individual peices of content, with one copy of each race in the database per year.  I've scaled back from everything that was originally planned, though, and this no longer makes sense.  Taking a cue from Northland Runner, I'm in the process of consolidating events into one page per event, and then updating the dates and locations as needed.  So if you end up here from a link that doesn't work, you can probably still find the event.

For the historians in the group, you'll also be able to see revisions of each event to see what has changed (in this database at least) from year to year.

If you need to update an event and you don't have access, post a new one and I can consolidate them manually.  I'm in the process of making this easier to do so bad links don't end up on Twitter.

Questions and comments: As always, please email me at [email protected] or tweet at @nplainsathletes.