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Keep tabs on pals running in marathon

New app allows participants to post progess on Facebook

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Running the Manitoba Marathon on Sunday? There's an app for that.

The Marathon gets going bright and early Sunday morning and there are already over 13,399 competitors registered -- a massive field that makes it difficult to keep track of any individual runner. However, with the new Manitoba Marathon Facebook application, runners can now keep their fan clubs updated on their progress throughout the race.


"We want families to be able to meet their loved ones or whoever someone is supporting at the finish line," said Shirley Lumb, the executive director of the Manitoba Marathon. With the new technology the race is employing this year, the guesswork is virtually eliminated.

Using the device, which works with the timing chip in each runner's bib, is free and requires no manual labour other than signing up on the Marathon's website to have the technology activated (and then running a marathon, of course). When runners cross each checkpoint, an update is published to their Facebook profile for all their "friends" to see. And you thought your beach pictures were embarrassing.

The full marathon features three different checkpoints where the runners can "check-in" on Facebook -- mile six, mile 13, and then at mile 21 -- the same checkpoints where runners' times are recorded for official results. Same goes for the two checkpoints in the half-marathon.

"We've really done all we can and put forth our best effort to make sure we are with the times and can provide our runners with the latest technology," Lumb said. "It's about making the race as fun as possible for competitors and their families."

To some runners, however, publically posting your progress in a multi-mile sweat-fest isn't exactly their idea of a good time.

Bryce Macek, a researcher at the Pan Am Clinic, is running the half-marathon on Sunday, but he won't be letting his friends or anyone else know where he is during the race.

"I don't expect to finish in a certain time, I'm just trying to finish period," Macek said. "So I don't really feel a need to update everyone as to where I am."

Macek, 25, is taking his first crack at the half-marathon this year, but says he could potentially see himself using the technology once he gets more comfortable with his running.

Although Macek may not be posting his results on Facebook this year, Lumb says the technology has experienced wild success at other marathons and is confident it will garner the same response among Manitobans.

"I know Toronto has done this," she said. "And it worked really well. In the end, we want the marathon to be enjoyable for everyone involved."



Road closures


BOTH Chancellor Matheson Road and University Crescent will be closed Sunday from 5:30 a.m. until the race has finished, and no access to the university will be granted until the area is clear. Parking lots behind the University of Manitoba will also be closed to accommodate the running route.

"The marathon is treated like a parade route," said Shirley Lumb, the marathon's executive director. As such, any car in the parade's way will be towed without hesitation.

The marathon's shuttle service will be in operation, as usual, to take competitors and spectators from their parked cars to the site of the start line.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 17, 2011 C5

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