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We study the load balancing aspect of routing algorithms in wireless ad hoc networks. We define a statistical measure called local coefficient of variance (lcv) to study the smoothness of the load distribution in the network. The importance of keeping lcv as low as possible in designing load balanced routing algorithms is demonstrated. We analyze how number of nodes, transmission range, network area and different routing algorithms can affect this metric. We introduce a class of algorithms called elliptic routing that reduce the maximum load of nodes in the network by avoiding the highly loaded network center at the same time as keeping the lcv of the load distribution low. Experimental results show that our algorithms outperform other existing algorithms in reducing the maximum load of the network. We also give a technique to reduce the lcv of the load distribution, and hence decrease the maximum load of the nodes in the network further. This technique can be combined with any location-based routing algorithm. We evaluate the performance gain obtained by this technique via simulations.