Some of the U.S. marathons that offer instant alerts or online tracking systems for runners and spectators:
Boston (April 16):
- Messages automatically sent to registered cell phones or e-mail addresses at six miles, halfway, 18 miles and the finish.
- Online updates available at the start, halfway point and finish and every three miles in between.
Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, San Diego (June 3):
- Alerts and online updates at six miles, halfway, 20 miles and finish.
- A race simulator that allows finishers to stage virtual races between themselves and up to five other competitors, including elite runners.
- Plans experiment at this year's race with continuous tracking of phone-carrying runners using Global Positioning Satellite technology.
San Francisco (July 29):
- Alerts at the start, 7.5-mile mark, halfway, 21-mile mark and finish.
Chicago (Oct. 7):
- Messages sent at the start, halfway point and finish and every three miles.
- Runners' progress is searchable online.
- Race officials with laptops available at 10 Starbucks coffeehouses along the race course to look up runners' progress.
Marine Corps Marathon, Washington, D.C. (Oct. 28):
- Updates sent from the start, five miles, 10 mile, halfway, 15 miles, 20 miles, 23.5 miles and finish.
New York (Nov. 4):
- Online updates and alerts sent at the start, halfway, finish and every three miles.
Houston (Jan. 13, 2008):
- Instant update options include start and finish only, or start, six miles, halfway, 18 miles and finish.
- An online map showing a runner's progress around the course.
- A multipage graphical rendering of a runner's results, including comparisons with other runners by age and gender.
- Searchable online video clips of every runner's finish.
Triathlons in San Francisco (June 3), New York (July 22) and Chicago (Aug. 26) offer e-mail, text message and voice alerts, along with graphical renderings of results and searchable video clips of athletes finishing.
Source: AP research.