San Diego, California (April 1, 2012)
The sport of triathlon has long been at the forefront of technology and innovation. For the last 25 years the focus has been on equipment: bikes, wetsuits, shoes, and clothing have all been dramatically improved by people willing to try something new.
The Triathlon Club of San Diego has recently cemented a technology partnership that should have the same effect on the sport as aero bars and neon unitards. The TCSD triathlon series on Fiesta Island will showcase a new race tracking technology starting with our September race.
Any family member who has tried to watch someone in a long distance race understands that there is significantly more waiting and wondering than watching. Experienced racers can often estimate split times accurately, but that only works when the conditions are perfect. Even short races can be difficult to watch because there are so many people bunched together that distinguishing one racer from another is difficult. Recently there has been some attempts to use GPS and cellular triangulation technology to provide real-time course updates. However, this technology is expensive and requires internet access to view the course updates. At best this technology is used as a novelty for races to attract participants.
Rather than rely on satellites, SMS messages, and an internet connection, the new tracking technology will only require standard radio frequency transmission. "We are really excited to have this technology at our fall races this year," says race director Brian Wrona. "I was able to covertly test it at my recent 70.3 race in Austin and it worked great!"
Beginning with the September race, each racer will have the option of attaching a specially designed collar around their neck with a small radio transmitter and whip antenna. While this may seem uncomfortable at first, remember what it felt like to race an Ironman in a cotton shirt? This will be much easier. The collar can be worn in the water, on the bike and on the run. Rather than tracking progress on the internet, a standard tube oscilloscope in the transition area will monitor progress of all racers. "Digital technology is fine and good when you need a lot of accuracy," says timing coordinator John Hill, "but old fashioned analog equipment works really well in this situation."
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