RouteMaster FAQ

by Kelly W.

Before reading the gory details in this FAQ, remember Vardos are a fun, supportive team. The routemaster job isn’t anything to stress about. it’s your opportunity to contribute to the team. You can grab a previously created route, use your favorite running route, create elaborate route spelling words, have a theme based route, a trail run, there have even been the occasional obstacle course! The choice is up to you.

So now that you are stress free here are the details.

What is a “routemaster”?
The routemaster has the duty of providing running route or routes with access to water for VardoNation.

How do I know when it’s my turn to be routemaster?
The calendar on the home page of shows the routemaster assignments. The calendar is generally populated 12 months at a time. The Vardogram (email newsletter) will have reminders of upcoming routemaster duties.

How do I create a route?

  1. Determine the distances. Check the Vardo calendar on the home page at The route distances are listed for each Tuesday and Saturday.
  2. Decide a starting point. The Tuesday run always starts at 5:30 PM at the south side of the Ames Community Center (aka Vardoman Center for the Performing Arts) at 515 Clark Ave. For Saturdays, the routemaster gets to set the starting location. Refer to the FAQ about starting locations for ideas.
  3. Decide the time. Tuesdays are always 5:30 PM. For Saturdays, the routemaster defines the start time. 7 AM is fairly typical, but for longer runs and hotter days a 6 AM start may work better. In the darker days of winter, some people push the time back so the run starts after sunrise.
  4. Find or create a route. There are multiple programs on the Internet for with existing routes or tools to create your own. I’ve had good luck with the USA Track and Field site ( which has existing routes and tools for making your own. Put Vardo in the name, select a distance and put in Ames, IA. There are an amazing number of already created routes!
    5. Provide water stops as appropriate for conditions. See water stop FAQ for more information.
    6. Send the information to the list manager, .

What makes a good starting point for Saturday runs?
Several factors can make a location a good starting point such as:

  • Restrooms
  • Drinking water
  • Breakfast options for after the run
  • Parking space
  • Cool routes in the vicinity

What are some of the common starting locations and why are these popular?

  • The Cafe – Meet on the South side of 2616 Northridge Parkway. There is enough parking. For those who are Ames Racquet and Fitness members there are restrooms, showers, and water. The Cafe has delicious breakfast and coffee.
  • Cafe Milo – 4800 Mortensen Road Suite 101. There is plenty of parking. For those who are Ames Racquet and Fitness members there are restrooms, showers, and water. Cafe Milo has breakfast, coffee and gourmet tea selections.
  • Either HyVee (East or West) – Plenty of parking, restrooms, water and post run breakfast.
  • Ada Hayden Park – 5205 Grand Ave. There is plenty of parking, restroom and water.
  • Brookside Park – 1325 6th Street. There is plenty of parking, restroom and water.
  • Inis Grove Park – 2500 Duff Ave. There is plenty of parking, restroom and water.
  • Your house – Invite all 2-40 Vardos over for a morning party.

How many water stops do I need to plan for?
This depends greatly on the weather. Generally every 3-4 miles works well. If it’s over 90 degrees F consider extra stops. For temperatures under 65 degrees F water stops are less critical and can be spread out every 4-6 miles. If you can list the mileage at your planned water stops with your published routes people can plan accordingly bringing their own water if they need it.

Do I have to buy water? And where are the water fountains?
No, while your fellow Vardos are very appreciative of water placed along the route, you do not have to buy water. During the warm season in Ames there are numerous public water fountains in city park and university buildings. This link allows you to search for all parks with a spigot. In the winter, the outdoor fountains are turned off but with cooler weather less water is needed. The best bet is Iowa State University, Memorial Union, Lagomarcino and other buildings are open almost every day of the year with access to drinking fountains and restrooms.

Do I have to provide Gatorade and snacks?
No, although fellow Vardos love and appreciate it when you do.

Do I have to provide a printed map?

Do I have to be present to describe the route?
No, you can simply send out a route and use public water fountains or you can request to switch with someone on the Vardo email list or Facebook page (Team Vardo).

Do I have to provide a map link?
No, you can provide a written description.

So why does Team Vardo use the RouteMaster system?
With so many different people creating the routes, we don’t end up getting bored running the same route. Creating a route also encourages ownership and pride in being a Vardo. Hopefully you can enjoy your turn at being the boss once or twice a year.

Can I see a sample route?
Sure! It’s nice to have the mileage, a link to a map (if you have one), a written description of the route with water locations.

3 mile route
From The Café, head north on Stange.
Head east on Bloomington to Hoover.
South on Hoover to 24th.
West on 24th to Stange.
North on Stange back to The Café.

6 mile route (5.94)
Start with the 3 mile group.
From The Café, head north on Stange.
Head east on Bloomington, then hop over to Top O’ Hollow.
Follow Top O’ Hollow until it turns into Dawes Dr.
Take Dawes Dr. to Ada Hayden.
Run along the east side of the lake to the north end.
Water at the shelter house
When you get to the Upland Trail, take it.
As you start to come down the Upland Trail, there is a little spur that will connect you to Grant Ave.
Grant Ave turns into Hyde which will take you back to Bloomington.
Water at the park on Hyde & Bloomington
West on Bloomington to Stange.
South on Stange back to The Café.