Recently, the 2011 LA Marathon announced that a runner tracking feature would be available to alert friends and family the progress of a participant in the race via email, Facebook and/or twitter. The instructions and instructions from other runner tracking systems I had seen all lack a few words of caution which I will share with you.
From experience, runner tracking does not always work. In 2009, I participated in the Nike Women's Half Marathon in San Francisco, CA. The event offered a fee based runner tracking service. Some participants loved the idea of alerting their family and friends their progress and signed up, while on the other hand, family and loved ones attempted to or used the updates to move from one spot to another during the event trying to catch a glimpse of their participant go by.
What was a great idea melted down during the event. Some participants reported the runner tracking failed to track them during the middle of the event, while others reported that they were never even tracked from the very get go.
Although refunds were given, some family and friends of participants were emotionally shaken over the runner tracking meltdown during the event. They had thought something bad had happened to their participant on the course. In addition, unfortunately in my area, there has been 3 deaths during half marathons in recent years, including 2 at the 2009 Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon, so some loved ones were more concerned than had these deaths not occurred. Hopefully, there has been no deaths during events in your area.
So, if you use a runner tracking program during an event, please do tell your loved ones that technology may or may not always work and that something bad may or may not have happened to you on the course if the technology fails. I have signed up for runner tracking for the 2011 LA Marathon, and I already told my loved ones the aforementioned words of advice.
For more info. about runner tracking at the 2011 LA Marathon, click here. (It opens a press release in .pdf.)