The Five Stages of Race Tracking

The race tracking App trapFor many runners, spring racing season is just beginning, which for our friends, family and other spectators can mean only one thing… figuring how to track friends and loved ones on the dreaded race app.

Once you’ve downloaded the app (which you’ll never use again, as it appears to be specific to a single race and offers no other races you want to track this year), handed over your social media details (and date of birth, and lifetime privacy rights of your firstborn child), and entered far too many details about your runner (including but not limited to their bib number, height, eye color and mother’s maiden name), what’s next?

A) Before race day: Hmm, it looks like Runner has passed Mile 24. Wait, the race is tomorrow. Huh, this app isn’t working so well.

You frantically text Runner to see what is up, sending her into a panicked tailspin about having accidentally crossed the timing mats with bib and thus being invalidated for tomorrow’s race/ being accused of cheating.

B) On race day: You refresh the app multiple times. What do you mean this app isn’t working? Maybe you should use the computer instead? Nope, this app is the only way to track them. You try uninstalling and reinstalling the app. It still does not work. You are now two hours into the race. Runner is nowhere to be found on the tracker. You begin to cry.

The app fails to load. Would you like the results of yesterday’s 5K and 10K instead of live tracking for today’s marathon? it asks.

You fling the phone across the room and storm out.

You vow lifetime fealty to Apple products if this app will just work on your darn iPhone.
You promise not to buy so many pairs of running shoes.
You swear not to flake on a run with Runner ever again, even if it’s 40ยฐ and rainy and all you want to do is stay in bed.

The app says Runner is in Delaware.
The race is in Florida.
You sink back into the couch and turn on the Olympics.

And finally, App-ceptance:
A) You decide to develop a new app. It involves a pigeon-based tracking platform and live fly-bys.
B) Next year to track Runner, you plan to sign up for the race and run it with her. See? Foolproof.

Tropical transplant to the chilly Northeast. Professional writer and researcher, cantankerous editor, mom to two! inquisitive children, asker of inconvenient questions.

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    1. If you are a Garmin user, the higher-end models allow you to share livetrack with several emails. Since all the the race tracking apps I’ve seen require the runner to be running with a phone anyway, perhaps this is the better way. Personally I don’t race with a phone, but for people who do, and do lots of races, this is a really reliable function.