Trust the trackers: How they work and why you should never got lost

Times have changed. Back in the day, ultra marathon runners would be left to rely on a map and compass – alongside the occasional aid station or marker – as they endeavoured not to add extra miles on to already crazy distances.

As race organisers, we were left to count each runner as they hit checkpoints, hoping that those who didn’t arrive would find their way back on track – or at least on to a bus!

These days, runners at our long-distance events are equipped with trackers that will not only tell them where to go, but enable our volunteers to keep an eye on those people who get waylaid.

But how do they work?

Our trackers are supplied by Geo Tracks, a worldwide specialist in GPS tracking solutions. Their mapping systems feature interactive tracking maps, which can be used by both competitors and their supporters.

Each runner is equipped with a lightweight tracker that can easily fit in a small rucksack pocket – if you are ever part of our races and get given one of these beauties, please remember to return it at the end of your run.

Runners can then download the Geo Tracks App, which includes a live view tracking map displaying details of every participant as they move round the course.

Each runner is denoted on the map by their bib number, which matches the tracker they carry. Their position is uploaded every 10 seconds to the live view map and is accurate to five metres, meaning people can always know exactly where they are.

The app is also available to friends and family, meaning they can know how their runner’s race is progressing – and where they need to be to cheer them on.

Batteries on the tracker last for 70 hours, so they won’t leave runners in the lurch as the miles mount up.

Finally, the live view means our volunteers are also able to keep an eye on the map in case any participant does take a mis-step.

In such circumstances, they are able to ring runners and help them get back on track. We do get repeat offenders who may need to be called several times, and although our volunteers have reported that they feel they have made new friends by the end of a race, we haven’t lost anyone yet!

So, if you are preparing for one of our long-distance events, please do take advantage of this incredible technology. Download the app before your race, trust the tracker… and we’ll see you at the end (without the need for a bus!).