Tracking a runner at a marathon used to involve using your brain and working out possible lap splits in the hope that you might catch a glimpse of a friend or family member taking part. These days, technology has taken over and has allowed fans to focus on cheering rather than counting.
To track someone running this years London Marathon, there are a number of ways to do it (including the using your brain)-
The Offical App
The Virgin Money London Marathon mobile app has built in tracking facility - also accessible via the official website - that uses runners timing chips to calsulate their location on the course.
It then breaks it down into the key distance splits every five kilometers as they pass through each one, giving those tracking an idea of pace. The app also features pubs on the route, incase those supporting need refreshment in the sunshine!
Download it here.
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Users of Garmin watches are able to share an activity via LiveTrack. Simply pair your Garmin device with the Garmin Connect Mobile app and enable LiveTrack for your timed activities. When you select AutoStart, all future timed activities on that device will automatically start a LiveTrack session.
You can then invite your friends and family via email, Facebook or Twitter. They will receive a link to a webpage that includes the position of your phone or connected device. They’ll also be able to track your activity time, distance, speed and elevation in real time. Pretty handy.
Strava Premium users can take advantage of their Beacon system. It works with Garmin devices too, but also as a stand alone feature. Simply head to the start activity on the bottom you'll see, highlighted in the picture above, the beacon icon. If you've not enabled it, click and it will let you switch it on and add the contacts you want to message a link to your activity. If you have it on already, click it to send the message and away you go.
It's worth noting however, watches and phones rely on GPS to capture and transmit location and at some points on the course due to building and tunnels, this can drop out.
The other way to track runners is old fashioned way of working it out. If someone you're supporting is going for a certain time, noting down their mile spilts (i.e. those aiming for a 4 hour finish time will be running an average pace per mile of 9m 9s) will help you guestimate when you might see them at certain points on the course.
Another handy tip is to use the Runner's World Pacers and their flags as a guage on general progress. If you know that someone is following the 3:45 pacer from the red start, then when you see the pacers with the 3:30 red flags, that's your cue to get to the barriers and start scanning the crowd because the next flag should be the one they're following.
Making yourself obvious to the runner is also a great way to make sure all that tracking pays off, so think big banners. Here are some race day sign ideas.
The runner can help too by wearing something unique or bright. That's quite a challenge with fluro being so prominent in sports wear but it's worth considering your race outfit and how it might help catch someones eye (without being uncomfortable of course).