Long-distance runners travel long distances to compete in road races. Some travel halfway across the world just to participate.
Thanks to maybe the most technologically advanced road race in the country, loved ones of those running in Sunday's Philadelphia Marathon will be able to both watch and track their favorite runners on the Internet.
More than 18,000 runners will flood the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in front of the Art Museum for the 7:15 a.m. shotgun start. But thanks to SAI-Timing, many more will tune in online.
Using a new live-stream technology, an innovative tracking
system will use satellite signals
stationed every 5 kilometers on the course to transmit the
image and time of the runners
to the Marathon's Web site (www.philadelphiamarathon.com).
"This is the next-best thing to having a live television sponsor," said Deputy City Representative Margaret Hughes. "In a lot of ways, it is better because you can view a runner as they cross a specific checkpoint instead of trying to guess where they are."
The Philadelphia Marathon, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, is one of only 10 races with the new streaming technology. This year will boast the largest field of runners ever in the race's history - and registration closed more than a month ago. More than 2,000 volunteers and 45,000 spectators are expected to be on hand.
To cope with the grueling race and chilly conditions, 26 cheer zones will be set up throughout the course as a way for residents to mingle, cheer, and watch the passers-by. Coffee, food and entertainment will be available at each zone, in addition to the Marathon Fan Pass that will be given out. The pass is good for a 15 percent discount at more than 100 area stores on race weekend.
"The great thing about the marathon is that all of Philadelphia gets involved," Mayor Nutter said. "We get so much help from local residents, families, the corporate and nonprofit communities and so many volunteers."
But on Nutter's "top 10 reasons to love the Philadelphia marathon," cheer zones were high on his list.
"No. 5: You can run past any of the 26 cheer zones for spectators and never hear a boo, unlike any other Philadelphia sporting event," Nutter said.
No race would be complete without a charitable aspect. Among the many groups running on Sunday, the Caron Center, a nonprofit addiction-treatment center based in Reading, will have a group running. Caron is no stranger to marathons, though.
Linda Quirk, a 55-year-old running enthusiast, has raised $241,000 for the Caron Center by attempting seven marathons on seven continents in 1 year. Her last race, in Antarctica, will take place in March.