Tracking Runners in the San Francisco Marathon

This is my quickie update on my semi-failed attempt at tracking a few runners in the 2015 San Francisco Marathon. Runner tracking, provided by FitBit! Just saying.

So I had some family members running in the 2015 San Francisco marathon and I wanted to track my runners. Some events have texting updates and the SF Marathon has a live app they've been using for the last few years. The reference is Live Runner Tracking.

When you are not in touch with your runners via any in-person updates, you will be victim to the update process of what ever app or process the run event provides. Last year Wipro was the name sponsor on the tracking app and this year, the tracking is provided by FitBit.

When you find the pitch for the runner tracker on the San Francisco Marathon website, it talks about a live app. I went directly into the Google Play store on my phone to snag it, but my search did not even pretend to find it for my Motorola.


The app is there online so I went ahead and punched in first one bib number, saw their update, then punched in the other bib number.

Below the runner info is an option to to see a "map," the "leaders," "info," and "messages." I was swapping back and forth between detailed updates on my runner's pace and the map showing, where on the marathon route my runners were located. (At the last update)

But then after the 7:12 am update, poof! I lost contact with my runners. The online app even said "Location Data Unavailable." I waited for it to update live, but that did not happen, so I did some active refreshes on the information. That too had as much success as "waiting" for the app to update automatically.

So I clicked on the link to install the mobile app. Just in case it was getting updated properly versus the web version that seems to have had a digital seizure. Yet the mobile app was exactly the same thing as the web page version.

At this point it has been just over an hour. After the first few updates that took place every 25 minutes or so, nada. Either both my runners have face-planted, or the app has totally failed.

Then I waited.

While I was waiting, I visited the FB page, but there was no info about the tracking app there. My last update was 7:12 AM. It was around 8:28 AM when my updates kicked it back in gear.

It kicked it back in gear just as I was about to click the 'Publish' button on this report, my runners had passed the 13.1 mile mark and the app started updating continuously after that. All the estimates have also returned to the screen.

Hence, this was not a fail, but just more of an intermittent tracking experience.

What I don't like about the map is that I don't seem to have an option which name to display. I have to delete my last runner to see the first runner. I can't seem to find a way to swap display names.

So for now, this is what I have going on. Maybe their tracking system is subject to coverage failures much like my Verizon Wireless coverage acts like when I ride Caltrain, here on the Peninsula, in the Bay Area.

Huh, just saw the app turn my phone screen to black. Meh, nothing is perfect. Right?

Well, if you made it this far in this post I thought I'd share this funny video for ya... it's one of my favorite post-run videos.

IT is called "The Day After the Marathon:"

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  1. Sounds like the tracking app worked fine, but perhaps the timing chip didn't get read at the split point before the 13.1M which I think should have been the 7.5M. Check the results to see if that point is missing, then look at other marathon participants to see that 7.5M should have been there. I think "Location Unavailable" means that the app could not determine the location of the runner at that moment due to missing information. Unfortunately, there is no timing technology on the market that can read 100% of the time, so misfires will happen and the app has to deal with that in one way or another.

    Also, you could add multiple runners at the same time to the tracker and they all appear on the map at the same time (as long as location info is available) which I thought was really cool!

    Funny video!


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