Lance Homer k7lqh at thehomerfamily.com
Tue Jul 10 13:22:57 EDT 2012

Like the others are saying, great report!  I've helped with a few events
like yours, but we've never employed APRS.  Your report sure makes me want
to try it at the next event I'm involved with.  I appreciate you sharing
with us.

Lance K7LQH

On Tue, Jul 10, 2012 at 9:47 AM, David Dobbins <ddobbins at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi Group,
>    Greetings from Missoula, Montana. The Missoula Marathon was held this
> past weekend. There were 5000+ runners/walkers/handicappers participating.
> The Hellgate Amateur Radio Club, led by Elmer WG7P, did a great job
> directing efforts of the 25+ volunteers who provided voice communications
> and APRS support to the race. We had communicators at most of the 17 AID
> Stations along the two routes, which included a Full Marathon (26.2 miles)
> and Half Marathon (13.1 miles). As the three lead male and female runners
> passed each AID Station the assigned communicator would radio in the bib
> numbers and time of crossing to Jerry N7GE (also an avid APRSr) at the
> finish line. I manned the APRS finish line station, monitoring the trackers
> we had following three lead males and female runners, and two "tail end
> charlie" trackers bringing up the rear of the races. Both Jerry and I took
> turns radio'ing the leader updates to Eric NZ7S at the FINISH line crossing
> where the announcers broadcast the info over their PA system.
>    The trackers consisted of two Byonics MT-AIO "yellow box" units mounted
> on bicycles, a Byonics MT-RTG mounted in the half-marathon pace car, three
> Kenwood D7/D72's, and an Arduino tracker neatly mounted on a bob-trailer
> behind the tail-end charlie bike. We ID'd the trackers with tactical
> callsigns (MSLA*) and entered owner callsigns at the end of the status text
> comment, set them for 30 second updates with various offsets to reduce
> packet collisions. Battery life well exceeded our needs on all the
> trackers. The finish line station ran UI-View with two area specific maps
> generated with Precision Maps v9, one showing the entire race routes, and
> the other focused on the final four AID stations. The AID stations were
> generated as objects on UI-View, and were periodically announced onto the
> APRS-IS as MSOAID*. As my TH-D72 was being used as a tracker, the UI-View
> station relied on APRS-IS input only. A projector and screen displayed the
> race picture for others to see from our location just below the finish line
> in Caras Park.
>    The trackers and FINISH line station worked great, although there were
> some gaps in coverage and other technical difficulties along for the ride.
> It was nothing we couldn't deal with, and overall a very successful
> mission. This was the first occasion for using APRS at the Missoula
> Marathon, and race officials were very impressed. I've done about a dozen
> or more races, marathons, triathons and Ironman events over the years, so
> bring some experience with me to the Hellgate club as I'm summering in
> Montana to escape the heat of Tucson. Makes sense, right?
>    We had a debrief last night at the monthly HARC meeting, and along with
> increasing the number of trackers to cover the three leading males and
> leading females of each race, we intend to place a tracker with the 5 hour
> PACER runner, and perhaps with one or more of the SAG vehicles. We also
> talked about coordinating some other communication updates including
> "tweeting" the BIB numbers when they pass the AID stations, so others can
> stay aware, and using several iPhones or Android smartphones to broadcast
> streaming video to UStream and link it with a map of the associated APRS
> tracker. I have that capability now, using my Android Bionic and mobile
> tracker to the web page at http://k7gps.weebly.com, but it could easily
> have been adapted to U2APRS or APRS OpenTracker running on a smartphone and
> the UStream video simultaneously. Oh the possibilities are limitless.
>    There's another communications-related activity I'd like to expand for
> next year, that is in the "lost and found" arena. We had several people
> wanting to drop off lost and found items, or in two cases looking for
> separated parties, one of which was a runner/walker in the event, who
> should have, but had not yet crossed the finish line. We took the bib
> number, name and description of those folks and radio'd an attempt to
> locate to our people along the course, but unfortunately never made contact
> with the other parties. On the TV news later that night I heard a report of
> one runner who collapsed mid-way between aid stations, where we didn't have
> any communicators, was administered CPR and rushed to the hospital. His age
> and physical description matched those of the person we were looking for.
> We'll try harder next time to get the bib number of those who are
> administered first-aid along the course, and get that info to
> communications-central, so when concerned parties come looking we can
> provide them with at least some information, or which hospital they were
> transported to.
>    Regards, Dave K7GPS
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