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Race day livetracking for runners

Stefan Kracht

The state of my current side project

I call myself a runner and I do races pretty regularly. When you're into running, race day is a very special event as it mostly involves a longer period of focused preparation that all goes down to nail this special day. 

When a friend or someone I follow on twitter or strava is going out for a race, I share a lot of this excitement too. I'm getting nervous and wonder if everything is working out as expected and I wish to follow the race the way I watch my favorite soccer club playing.

But in reality, you are staring at a website displaying a table with a few splits which is as exciting as watching sports on Teletext. So basically you are waiting for this post-race message with the simple words like "I made it in ${finishTime}". It's 2018 and that's it. End of story.

How does live tracking look today?

There are some tools out there that are available today but most of them are either not convenient or not optimized for sharing a proper race day experience.

Offered by the organizer

There is always a race time measurement system from the organizer which mostly involves you running with an RFID chip through a magnetic field. This is optimized for time accuracy and using this data for a viewer live stream is just a by-product of the real purpose. 

Some ultra events equip the runner with a GPS chip which trades some time accuracy against a big safety advantage. On this very long races, it's not "that" important to have splits to be exact to the second. The live stream of this events have the greatest potential but usually end up on a website that is either hard to use or look like they have been designed in the late 90's. Mostly both.

Using your supercomputer in your pocket

However, since we don't choose our races depending on the organizers tracking system we could have skipped the previous part. So we all have smartphones which weigh almost nothing and should be in our pockets during the run. In cases you drop out, they are very handy for orientation and communication.

Let's see what apps can do these days. You can go with classic location-sharing apps like iMessage or WhatsApp, but they only show you the current position, no pace or any running context at all. You basically only see if someone is running or standing. Then you have apps like Strava Beacon and Garmin LiveTrack which add the route that you have already run including your current time, pace and distance. Both of them are focused on running/riding but seem to be meant for safety reasons to inform your loved ones that you are save during a long workout.

What should live tracking look LIKE today?

You could change the way that event organizers track (like racemap does) but since you can never reach them all, it would be the best approach to fix it on the runner's side and give everyone on every race the possibility for the best live tracking. Here is a list of things that should be improved in my opinion:

Live viewers should see more than just your current location and the route you already run. The complete course should always be visible to properly reflect your current progress.

Live tracking should be more personalized. You should be able to provide information about your personal goal of the event and pass this to the viewer with real-time feedback. People should see if you are ahead of your goal or not to get an idea of how your race is really going.

Make it accessible to non-runners! This is a big one. People that follow your race may have no idea of splits and paces. They should be able to get information that is as clear as possible. Message like:

Stefan is about to reach the 4 km mark. He is 2 minutes ahead of his aimed time. Looking good!

It should be aware of the viewer's location. When you view the race on-side, you should be informed when the runner will pass you.

Let's build something

If you're unsatisfied with something you have basically two options. Deal with it or do something about it. I'm a developer and this time I chose the second option (I did that before btw). Please watch this video to get an idea of what I've been working on for the last couple of months.

Any Feedback?

This is still an early prototype but I'm very curious about any feedback. What do you think about it? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or just drop me a line on twitter.
 

Say hi to the split time calculator

Stefan Kracht

With today's release the toolset of runverter.io can be called feature complete for now. The last - and my personal favourite - tool in line is the new split time calculator.

The split time calculator is your little assistant to work out a proper race strategy and helps you to keep track of it. You can pick a race distance, your desired finishing time and whether you prefer to run an even pace throughout the entire race or change the speed during the race.

Progress bar

For easier orientation, the splits are divided by a tiny little progressbar indicating how far you have come until this split.

Print it!

The generated splits are very printer friendly. Print it out and tape it to the wristband of your GPS watch to recheck the times on the go. Play a little bit with the zoom in the printer dialog to make it fit to your needed size.

Minor Changes

  • add donation button
  • update ember-cli from 2.11.0 to 2.12.1
  • update ember-cli-deploy from 0.6.4 to 1.0.0
  • minor bugfixes and structural changes behind the scenes

The race predictor has landed

Stefan Kracht

In the last couple of weeks I've been busy to improve the toolset of runverter.io. Here is an overview of the changes from the latest update.

new Tool: race predictor

The race predictor uses a previous race result to estimate an upcomming one. It is based on the peter riegel method which is suitable for runs between 3.5 minutes and 3 hours, 50 minutes. Other race prediction algorithms may be added in the future. I'm also planing to offer the possibility to provide a second reference run to make the fatigue coefficient variable.

add homescreen app support for android devices

as requested by @KenBauer

Minor changes

  • add flash messages to give context-sensitive user feedback
  • add possibility to delete local data on the imprint page
  • update ember-cli from 2.9.1 to 2.11.0
  • minor bugfixes and structural changes behind the scenes