Thursday, September 30, 2010

Twin Cities this weekend: track a runner through text messages

MINNEAPOLIS, BUSINESS WIRE -- For the first time in the history of the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, spectators will be able to track individual runners' course times and locations via real time text messages on their mobile phones.

The Medtronic Athlete Tracker, powered by Convergent, sends text messages to spectators' mobile phones as athletes cross timing mats at various locations along the course. Title sponsor Medtronic and race organizer, Twin Cities In Motion, came up with the idea to help spectators plan their viewing locations and better predict the finish times of their athletes.

"We're very pleased to offer this service to enhance the race experience for our athletes and their families and friends," said Virginia Brophy Achman, Executive Director for Twin Cities In Motion (TCM). "With race participation increasing 40 percent over the last five years, it is more important than ever for spectators to be able to follow the athletes who have trained so hard to be here."

Text notification sounds simple at first. The challenge posed by the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon is volume and time. With 17,000 runners, 300,000 spectators, 26 mile marker identification points and an event lasting less than half a day, the technology needed to be architected correctly, or it wouldn't work. Medtronic spearheaded a solution by partnering with Convergent - a nationally recognized technology solution provider for Microsoft UC and voice.

"The idea of building an athlete tracking system for the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon immediately sparked our interest," said Tavis Hudson, Convergent's Health Solutions Manager. "At Convergent, our specialty is building communication systems that solve business challenges and bring people together. The Medtronic Athlete Tracker, powered by Convergent, does just that. With our technology, spectators will be able to follow -- and cheer on -- individual athletes out of a pack of thousands."

"It is exciting to bring innovations like this to the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon," said Tammy Johnson, Medtronic global brand marketing director. "Helping great organizations like Twin Cities In Motion enhance great community events is one of the many reasons Medtronic pushes the boundaries of technology every day."

Athletes and spectators can sign up to receive text updates via a link on