Saturday, October 30, 2010

iPad and RaceMate App Pinpoint Runners At Tomorrow's Marine Corps Marathon, Set To Start In Spite of Recent Shootings

 By Tom Dulaney, Editor in Chief

The iPad joins a field of some 30,00 runners in its first Marine Corp Marathon tomorrow, thanks to an app from RaceMate.

The app tracks runners by following their GPS enabled smartphones and feeding locations into the developer's system and then back down to friends and supporters to follow along with their iPad or iPhone.  Race organizers expect nearly half of the runners will have smartphones on board during the race.

3G iPads or users close to a Wi-Fi hot spot will be able to see exactly where their runner is on the race route at any time.  Runners' locations will be updated every time they advance about 10 meters, says Barg Upender, CEO of Mobomo, developer of RaceMate.

RaceMate is available for $1.99.  An upgrade to let an observer track multiple runners costs $2.99, according to a report in USA Today.

Runners are literally “under the gun,” or threat of it, and organizers have beefed up security. In recent weeks, an unknown shooter used a high velocity rifle to fire some 7 shots at the Pentagon on October 19. Two days earlier, shots were reportedly fired by the same rifle at the Marine Corps Museum in Triangle, VA, some 32 miles southwest of Washington. Again, in the early morning ours this Tuesday, the museum of shot at once more.

The race coincides with the 2,500th anniversary of the first marathon, when Phidippides ran 36 miles from Athens to Sparta, helping the outnumbered Athenians beat the Persians at the Battle of Marathon.

RaceMate is slated to be on hand for other major races, including the New York marathon.  “We are in early beta of a 'Command and Control' version of the app specifically designed for the massive screen real estate and form factor of the iPad,” the FAQ page for RaceMate says.

The RaceMate app is $1.99 in the iStore. RaceMate v2.1 is a “massive upgrade” from version 1.0, the company says. Instructions on the web site tell runners how to enter their race registration information into the system The instructions explains how friends and supporters can use their iPads or iPhones to track their runner. Both the runner and the supporters have to download the app to enable tracking.

The app features maps to pinpoint a runner's location. The Marine Corp Marathon is an excellent event for runners' supporters to watch the action. There are a number of places where the race route loops around, giving observers a chance to hotfoot it from point to point to see—and photograph or video—their runner several times.

USA Today reported on RaceMate and the marathon earlier last month.

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