The Art of Running

Roberto DeVido
7 December, 2011
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In addition to his livestreams of the Tokyo Marathon, Joseph Tame engages in what he calls The Art of Running.

Using Google Earth, RunKeeper and a pair of iPhones, Tame ‘writes’ shapes into the map of Tokyo, most famously a 21km loop in the shape of the Apple logo, as a tribute to the late Apple founder Steve Jobs.

Tribute to Steve Jobs. Tame ran 21km to form the outline of this Apple logo.

He’s also done a 45km Hello Kitty, a 15km Twitter bird and a 50km heart.

I heart Tokyo. Tame plans his runs using Google Maps and Google Earth, then tracks them using Runkeeper. This heart is 50km long.

“My first effort was an elephant, and it was pretty crappy,” Tame says. “I sent out a tweet to say ‘Watch my run and guess what I’m drawing,’ and people seemed to enjoy that. So then I did the Hello Kitty, a Google+ logo and the Apple logo.

“The problem is finding the time,” he continues. “There’s a lot of planning involved, and out on the roads it’s sometimes not easy to figure out if you’re still on course. I find the road markings visible in Google Earth are very helpful. For some of the more complex images I’m planning, I’m doing them over the course of several runs. At the moment I can’t run 70km at a stretch.”

Tame says the new iPhone 4S’s GPS capabilities have been significantly enhanced, which helps him a lot. The more limited GPS capabilities of the old iPhone (including lack of reception in narrow streets) resulted in some inaccurate logging, but increased accuracy and near-instantaneous map updates allow him to make designs that are a lot more complex and detailed.

“Live broadcasting marathons around the world is not my thing, and the Tokyo Marathon is only once a year,” Tame says. “The Art of Running is another chance for me to combine technology and sports, and to add art to the mix as well. Plus, it’s another way to keep myself motivated to get out there.”

Besides the iPhones on his rig, Tame often adds an iPad to show live incoming tweets and allow spectators to see the interactivity, and a MacBook Air connected to a ‘proper’ camera to upstream.

The tech he uses is always evolving – when preparing for this story, Tame used Siri, the iPhone 4S’s voice-recognition technology, to dictate an email to me while running.

Joseph Tame shows off the rig he uses for ‘writing’ shapes into the Tokyo landscape.

As a part of what he does is interacting with people who are following his marathon and Art of Running runs, he says Siri represents a huge improvement in his ability to respond to people who are following and supporting him.

Joseph Tame is a 34-year-old digital media producer from Hereford, England. He has lived in Japan for five years and can be found on Twitter as @tamegoeswild and on the web here.

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