From the USA Track & Field Website:
“A USATF-certified course is a road race course whose distance has been certified for accuracy. Courses must be certified for any road running performance to be accepted as a record or to be nationally ranked. Furthermore, running a race on a certified course allows you to accurately compare your time to performances run on other certified courses because you can be sure the distances were the same. No one can truly establish a personal best if the course distance is not accurate.”
To read the entire measurement process, as well as see what equipment is required, follow this link.
When RaceMeasure measures your course, you will receive:
1) A certified racecourse measurement.
You will receive certification from USATF, the official certifying body of running courses in the USA. Certifications are good for 10 years, as long as there are no changes to, or construction on, the course. Records set on your course will be official, pending verification by USATF. You will receive paperwork indicating the course certification effective for 10 years. Measurement is done using a “Jones-Reigel”-equipped bicycle, which is calibrated twice, once before and once after measuring. Your course is measured at least twice, to conform to USATF measuring standards.
2) A map of your course.
The map will show all mile-points and other relevant locations. It will contain a description of the location of all mile-points, so anyone can find them in the future. Race maps will be posted online, and you will be supplied the link. There will be a Web map, and a link to a PDF file that your runners may print from.
3) An elevation profile.
Elevation profiles are made with a high-sensitivity-receiver GPS, made while we ride your course, when possible. These are more accurate than the online mapping profiles, as we have found some online tools to put hills where they aren’t, and some don’t adjust for bridges. If you are crossing a long bridge, some online tools show the earth profile, not the bridge elevation. All images will be posted on this site, so you can link to them in your brochure and on your Web page.