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Standards Help Fans Keep Pace with NYC Marathon Runners with High-Tech Tracking Tools

Runners from all fifty states and more than one hundred countries will compete this Sunday in the ING New York City Marathon, toughing it out across bridges, past cultural landmarks, and through spectator-lined city streets. Now in its forty-first year, the marathon attracted more than 124,000 applicants for its 45,000 spots.

No matter where you are on race day, you can keep up with the men's, women's, and wheelchair races thanks to technology being leveraged at this year's event. New York Road Runners is offering three ways to track competitors along the winding 26.2 mile, five-borough course.

Fans and friends can tap into their cell phones to track the progress of up to three of their favorite competitors using New York Road Runners' Athlete Alert tool. With the tool, fans can receive text messages updating them on runners' times at regular intervals and at the finish line. On the web, Athlete Tracker allows fans to follow three designated athletes on their computer by entering the competitor's name, bib number, or country. iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch users can stay in touch with the Marathon iPhone app, which offers live streamed video of the race, an interactive guide to pro athletes, and individual runner tracking. Debuted this year, the app also features live blogging, Twitter feeds, and a "cross-path" feature to display the user's location with respect to the runner.

The tracking and recording of all 45,000 marathoners is made possible by a tiny but powerful chip approximately the size of a thumb nail. These radio frequency identification- (RFID-) enabled Chronotrack D-Tags will be attached to all athletes' shoelaces or wheelchairs.

RFID technology tracks moving objects by enabling the transmittal of data from a mobile "tag" to an RFID "reader." As marathoners race across designated checkpoints on Sunday, RFID readers embedded in mile mats will capture the unique identifier information transmitted by each competitor's tag. RFID technology helps to provide an accurate record of a runner's pace, recording their time at the start and finish lines, as well as at important splits in between.

A Favorite to Watch

Edison Pena, one of the rescued Chilean miners who kept in shape by jogging the gold and copper mine tunnels a half-mile below ground, will put his training to the test in Sunday's ING New York City Marathon.

Invited as a special guest to watch the race, Pena surprised marathon officials by announcing instead his intention to compete.

A part of his daily regimen, Pena kept up his physical and emotional well-being by running three to six miles each day through tunnels where he and 32 fellow miners were trapped for 68 days. [see related ANSI news item]

Standards for RFID technology fall under the scope of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO)/International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Joint Technical Committee (JTC) 1, Subcommittee (SC) 31, Automatic Identification and Data Capture Techniques. SC 31 develops standards to support the interoperability of wireless, non-contact omnidirectional RFID devices capable of receiving, storing, and transmitting data. The JTC 1 Collection on Radio Frequency Identification package of standards covers the spectrum of RFID topics, from automatic identification and data capture techniques to item management.

The U.S. plays a leading role in JTC 1, with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) serving as secretariat and ANSI member and accredited standards developer the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) administering the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to JTC 1. The U.S. also holds the secretariat and the chairmanship of SC 31, with duties delegated to GS1 US, an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, and Mr. Charles Biss as chair. AIM Global serves as the administrator of the ANSI-accredited U.S. TAG to SC 31, and is responsible for carrying U.S. positions forward to the committee.

INCITS also maintains American National Standard ANSI/INCITS 256-2007, which establishes a technical standard for a family of compatible RFID devices, specifically those operating in freely available international frequency bands at license-free power levels. It is intended to promote interoperability and compatibility for the growing RFID market in the United States. On your marks, get set. . . GO!


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


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Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


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