The source for the jones counter course measuring device
La fuente para el dispositivo de medición contra jones curso
History of the Jones Counter
by Alan Jones, January 1, 1984
Note from the Road Running Technical Council of USATF: The "Jones Counter" is the device which is now used universally for recording wheel revolutions when measuring race courses using thecalibrated bicycle method. This article first appeared in Summer 1984 in the RRCA publication Footnotes. Alan posted it more recently in MNForum on 1998 June 10. In addition to inventing the Jones Counter, Alan Jones is the author of widely used software for race scoring.
When you run a particularly good time in a race, you often wonder right away if the course is short. If the course is advertised as"certified", you have some degree of assurance that it is accurate.
Have you ever stopped to think what it is that makes one course certified and another not? Behind each certified course is a lot of work by dedicated people who want to give you that confidence in the times you run. There are many aspects to course measuring. One is the device used. My son, Clain, has made such a device that hasbeen used to measure thousands of courses over the past ten years [Remember, this was written in 1984]. Since he has now sold the business it seems an appropriate time to write a history of the device since one cannot claim such a history is being used to help sell the counters.
The Counter mounts on the front wheel of a bicycle and is used to measure road courses. The counter records 20 counts foreach revolution of the wheel. By riding the bike over an accurately measured course to establish the number of counts per mile (or kilometer) one can then measure a course to a high degree of accuracy.
I have often been asked how my son began making the Clain Jones Counter which has been used to measure two Olympic Marathon courses as well as road race courses all over the world. By digginginto some of his and my records I've created the following account.
Back in 1970, I ran in my first road race which was a local affair sponsored by a church advertised as "20 Kilometers". While I didn't run a fantastic time, I knew it was faster than seemed possible. I drove my car out on an Interstate highway and did a rough calibration of my car's odometer and then rode over the course. I foundit to be about 11.4 miles instead of the 12.4 it should have been.
It so happened that this was the last running of the race since the priest who had been the meet director for 13 years was retiring and the parishioners did not want to carry it on. A few of us decided to try to pick it up and change it from a "point-to-point" format to a loop format. About this time an article appeared in Runner'sWorld telling how to measure a course. Up until this time I had never heard of Ted Corbitt who did the certifying for the RRCA and AAU (to be replaced by TAC [which is now USATF]).
A friend, Tom Young, gave me a revolution counter that was used many years ago in an IBM machine to record the number of hours of use. I still have this counter. It is made of metal and has inscribed on the end of thecase:
THE VEEDER M'F'G CO.
HARTFORD, CONN., U.S.A.
I figured I might be able to use this somehow but needed a way to revolve it as the wheel turned. I went to a bike shop and rooted through a box of old odometer gears. It seems that odometers wear out faster than the gears so people come in to get an odometer repaired but the gear part is notreplaced. Since every new odometer comes with a gear, the proprietor was developing a collection of them. I found one that I thought I could hook to my counter.
By filing the circular shaft on the counter into a square cross-section, I was able to attach it to the gear which was then slipped over the front axle of my bicycle.
Tom and I then went out to a section of unfinished Interstate highway and...