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Wireless users will be able to track runners in this year's Boston Marathon

By Eddie Medina, Boston.Com Staff, 03/30/00

Some fans watching this year's Boston Marathon will be able to track the progress of runners they know in a new and innovative way, as the Boston Athletic Association begins using wireless technology.

Dubbed the Athlete Tracking Network, the technology expands the use of the computer chip that is attached to every runner's shoe.

In the past the Champion Chip has been used by the BAA to provide precise timing and to track runners as they cross various check points around the course. In recent years, the data generated from the chips has been placed on the BAA's Marathon Web site,, on race day.

This year, when runners depart from Hopkinton on April 16, wireless technology will allow the BAA to share that data with fans and family members via PC, cellphone, PDA, pager or any device with an e-mail address. The technology will involve a WAP-enabled Web site and Nextel Communications Inc.'s wireless messaging service.

Updates will be automatically broadcast from the 10K, half-marathon and 30K checkpoints and the finish line on Boylston Street.

However, only a limited number of people will be able to benefit from the program. Marathon runners must designate which wireless device or e-mail address they want to receive information about them. They may designate only two recipients.

To expand the use of the system, Nextel representatives will be positioned around the 26.2-mile race course and the Family Meeting Area on race day to provide individual updates as fans request them.

Compaq Computer Corp. will also position 30 of its own representatives, armed with wireless versions of the company's futuristic iPAQ Pocket PCs, every 5 kilometers around the course to provide runner updates. The Compaq team will wear bright red shirts that read "Ask Me About Your Runner."

Information about registration can be found on the BAA's Web site, or at the Nextel desk in the number pick-up area at the John Hancock Sports & Fitness Expo on Saturday or Sunday, April 14-15.

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