Marathons mix high-tech with long trek

/ Source: The Associated Press

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.