The Athlinks engineering team has been hard at work to deliver a product that meets the highest standards for Athlete Tracking in the endurance sports industry. So, whether you’re a Timer, Race Director, Spectator or Athlete, we’re happy to announce that we have created a Map Tracking product that will delight spectators and dramatically improve any race day experience. Check out all the details below, complete with a Table of Contents to help you navigate:

  • What Makes This Map Tracking Better Than Our Previous Version
  • Technology Behind the Rebuild
  • How to Visually Interact with Map Tracking
  • Feature Set Review
  • How to Get Started
  • What’s Next

What Makes This Map Tracking Better Than the Previous Version

We’ll jump straight into what features were improved upon from our previous map tracking product and explain how we have improved.

  • No Mobile App Required
    • Previous Version Required The Mobile App. For Spectators tracking along, the mobile app was a requirement and this led to limited adoption.
    • Improved: Just as before, our new product works on any device you have — no download required! Map Tracking is now a part of Athlinks.com, allowing you to track your Athlete on whatever device you have available.
  • Easier Map Uploading
    • Previous Version Had a Difficult Map Uploader. Our first map uploader was somewhat proprietary in nature. The old version was very particular that if the map files were not formatted in a very specific way, the map would not be uploaded correctly. This caused headaches for our timers and race directors, and unnecessary support calls
    • Improved: New Map Tracking map uploader abides to the general specs of .kml and .gpx files and it still hosted in CTLive
  • Intelligent Course Distance
    • Previous Version Moving Finish Line. When making the route, you may not have cut a corner exactly like a runner would. (E.g. outside-inside-outside.) . Over a long course with lots of turns, this can add up to quite a difference, causing your course to either look long, or end short.
    • Improved: The new Map Tracking utilizes what we call Intelligent Map Processing, or KML/GPX Map Normalization. Intelligent Map Tracking ensures that any .kml or .gpx file uploaded will normalize to the exact course distance selected and intended for mapping and scoring. It works by using a start and end point on a course and normal
      • It works by taking the starting point of a course and the end point of a course, and normalizing the map inside those two endpoints to fit the course distance intended and selected by the Timer. This rebuild saves Timers from having to constantly tweak a GPS track in order to ensure that the Finish Line ends at the right location.
  • Inaccurate Athlete Prediction Location
    • Athlete Predictions Inaccurate. Due to how their pace was predicted, if they slowed down or sped up, their location was inaccurate. Additionally, athlete location prediction was calculated on the device and was different based on service provider and device type.
    • Improved: By switching to a “Last Seen” map tracking model, it is now driven by ChronoTrack Live’s scoring engine and will give users information about where the athlete was last scored (including location on map, race time and time of day)
  • Wider Event Coverage
    • Limited to Running Events Only.  Due to our prediction model, our first map tracking product was limited to Road Running events only.
    • Improved: With events like trail runs, ultramarathons and century cycling races and triathlons, Map Tracking can be an essential part of a spectator’s piece of mind. Our new tracking product offers Athlete tracking not just for running events, but for everything mentioned above more. Event type is no longer a barrier to enjoy this product.
  • Reduced Split Points
    • Version One Required a 100 Meter ‘post-start’ Timing Point. Previous versions required a 100m split line following the start line in order to create a predicted pace. 
    • Improved: Because the New Map Tracking is based on confirmed reads, the 100M line is no longer necessary. To learn more about Predictive vs. Stop the Dot technology used for the New Map Tracking, read on below.

Predictive Pace vs. Stop The Dot Tracking Technology

Our original Map Tracking product used what we called “Predictive Tracking” which put an athlete on course in an estimated position based on their pace. While this worked great for short running races, we found that in longer races an Athlete will either slow down or speed up during the event. Not only are there a myriad of external factors (wind, weather, gradient), but even at elite levels, split times are not consistent. This inconsistency would cause a misrepresentation of where an athlete truly was on course. For spectators following along and meeting up to cheer their loved one on, this had the potential to cause more stress if that meet up window had passed. Additionally, it severely limited the number of types of races for which Map Tracking could be used.

In our most recent announcement, we promised product innovation and improvements to current products that would make waves in the industry. With better input map processing and more accurate timing point visualization, adjustable units and both predictive and non-predictive display options to minimize problems on race day, it’s now easier than ever to utilize this premium Map Tracking product. 

Main Visuals + Additional On-Map Display Features

As previously mentioned, any Timer using CT Live can upload a .kml or .gpx file representing a course. Our Intelligent Map Processor automatically overlays each Timing Point on top of the uploaded map at the distance of the map is married to timing points throughout the course. This allows for what we call “stop the dot” tracking in which visual progress is updated only when a given split is passed. By going to a “stop the dot” map tracking model, it provides you, your customers, and their spectators the most up to date data without any chance of potentially providing misinformation that leads to missing someone on course.

Viewers will see when and where the Athlete has passed a timing point – indicated by solid lines – and will be able to see where an Athlete is, relative to two splits – indicated by a moving spiral line with arrowed graphics to indicate direction. Additionally, the course visuals are complete with robust geographic information making spectating easier than ever before. This includes:

  • Street Names and Building/Structure Outlines – Essential for Spectators looking for safe, accessible places to cheer on loved ones.
  • Course Elevation Map – Key for mountain biking, trail runs and other courses with multiple elevation gains and drops.
  • Split Info complete with Time Of Day and Split Time Lengths –  View numerical data in real time when an Athlete crosses a split line. Additionally, Athletes can go back to tracking page post-event and see their splits relative to the course map and elevation. Please note, TOD is set to the event’s time zone, not the time zone of the Spectator. See images below.

Summary of Key Features

  • Completely rebuilt from the ground up using new results pipeline, so there’s never a discrepancy between map tracking and Athlinks results
  • No longer requires a 100 Meter split. However, the earlier an Entry gets a split, the sooner they are “trackable”.
  • New Map Tracking can be used for any course type: Triathlons, Obstacle Races, Mud Runs, Ultras, Mountain Biking, etc.
  • All Timers using CT Live for Scoring have the ability to upload maps
  • Intelligent Map Processing and Course normalization means easier map uploading with less tweaking
  • Time of Day is represented, in addition to Relative Time, is presented to Spectators
  • Works on Mobile And Desktop with no download required

Current Phase of Release

At this time, anyone with access to the Course Tab in CT Live can upload a map and see a link to their Athletes on Race Day. In order to build trust among our clients and customers, we are deploying this as a “for your eyes only” feature. In doing this we are allowing our customers to utilize this product knowing there are still improvements to be made and above all else see that we are truly working on a game-changing product.

Everything you need to know about how to upload a map and view in-app can be found in our KnowledgeBase article How to Enable and Configure Athlinks Map Tracking.

What’s Next

We envision multiple enhancements for both Athletes and Event Directors alike: 

  • Spectator GPS – adds Spectator location on the map
  • In App Notifications
  • ETA / Expected Time
  • Multi-Athlete display on map
  • Multi-Athlete Replay
  • Athlete GPS – Run with your phone for real-time location