The company’s aim is to broaden the scope of endurance sports event coverage while providing race directors a new level of safety.
Keeping track of a runner during a long-distance race is no easy task, even with the widespread used of chip timing at events and the prevalence of GPS-based wearable technology. UltraSportsLive. TV, a media and technology platform whose goal is to revolutionize the way endurance sports are viewed, is taking runner tracking to the next level with the launch of a proprietary tracking technology to complement their live video streaming of races—which, to this point, have been focused on ultra-distance trail events.
“In short, the tracking in conjunction with the video were the crucial components to interactive viewing,” says Mike Cloward, co-founder and CEO of Ultra Sports Live. TV, who noted that his company will expand their coverage to include road races beginning at the San Luis Obispo Marathon and Half Marathon on April 26, 2015. “We immediately saw the need for a viewer to have the ability to see participants nearing a camera location and then being able to click on that camera location and watch the participants pass through.”
The technology made its soft debut at the Way Too Cool 50K in March, where 35 runners wore the tracking chip embedded in a bracelet on their wrists. The chip, which weighs 33 grams (half the weight of most GPS watches) and can be worn anywhere on the body, has a 30-hour battery life and currently displays the number of miles run as well as the runner’s current moving pace. Plans to add more trackable bio analytics such as heart rate, body temperature and cadence are in the works, Cloward says. The tracking technology sits on a worldwide satellite network and is claimed to work in any environment, anywhere on the planet.
Aside from being able to track race leaders or your favorite runner and knowing when they’re approaching an USL.TV camera on course, the live-tracking technology delivers a heightened level of safety for race directors, providing accurate location updates every 60 seconds, which will show if a runner has stopped or gone off course. “The race director will now know exactly where everyone is on the course—not just when they arrive at aid stations,” explains Cloward, who says that all runners participating in The Canyons 100K in Foresthill Calif., in May will be required to wear the tracking chip. “RDs will be able to make sure everyone is on course and they’ll also be able to identify runners who have stopped moving, which may or may not signal an injury or other issues.”
Cloward believes the adoption of the live tracking technology, in conjunction with live streaming coverage, will change the way endurance events are covered, bringing fans, family and friends closer to the action than ever before and allowing them to experience races on an elevated, interactive level.
“Ultimately, our goal is to capture the majestic nature of the courses and the names and faces of the athletes as they interact in that environment,” says Cloward. “Live video in unison with the live tracking will bring the competition between the athletes to a new level as you watch them jockey and strategize for position.”