What’s Better Than Virtual? How About Real-Time Remote Racing™
Vendor Spotlight: New Running USA member RTRT offers cutting edge technology for an on-your-own racing experience
We’ve all become familiar with virtual events in 2020, whether by choice or necessity. Providing runners with alternative ways to participate in our events has become a must in the pandemic era.
But one company with a stellar reputation for developing the app-based technology that tracks runners real-time at some of the world’s largest races, like the New York City, Chicago, Disney and Paris marathons, has an option for virtual racing that doesn’t just track runners’ distance and time – it allows them to race with others, real time.
RTRT.me (Real-Time Race Tracking®) is new to the ranks of Running USA members and we are excited to welcome them and showcase what their technology platform can do to elevate members’ alternative event formats. Since its origins, RTRT has tracked 10,220,128 finishers in 1,839 events globally.
Adapting to 2020’s challenges
Recently we sat down with Jeremy Dill, founder and CEO of RTRT, and Paul Farmer, account manager for the company, to get the details on their new product Real-Time Remote Racing™ and what it might offer for events of all sizes. What makes it different than other options?
“It’s something about the competitive feeling of going out and doing THE RACE, on the time and day of the race, that’s very inspiring to people,” said Dill. “Leading up to the start of the event, there’s a countdown clock, and you can’t actually start until the race starts. There’s then a window of opportunity in which you can start, until the start is closed. We’re emulating what it would be like to be in a real race. You should get the jitters and think ‘I’ve got to go out there and run,’ because now there are other people running with me.”
A live map view in the app allows the runner to see both their personal progress and a projection of others who would be running near you, were you in the same location. Elevation comparisons are offered, and there is also the ability to hide your personal performance data if you don’t wish to share with the world.
Data coming from the runners’ GPS is used to emulate what would happen in a real race, including split times, which normally would come from timing mats located along the course. Those who have decided to jump into a car or ride a bike can be detected easily, just as they would be on a normal course.
Dill said that starting in March, his team was thrilled to have something to work on that kept runners running and races operating, and enthusiastically jumped into a new programming challenge.
“We want to see events not cancel, especially charity events. If the charity event can still happen, even if it’s a different experience, we want it to continue. Our feedback from customers has been – wow – that was way more fun than we expected,” Dill shared. Runners receive a “100 meters to go” cue when the race is almost done, providing an extra jolt of finish line excitement.
One of RTRT’s satisfied smaller customers is Elite Events, a Florida-based race portfolio that has benefited from offering runners a more fun and interactive virtual experience. Elite Events uses RTRT’s branded apps across their portfolio and jumped at the chance to use the expanded functionality.
“The RTRT Real-Time Tracking platform is what a ‘virtual run’ should be,” summarized Jaeden Hamernik, owner of Elite Events. “We encourage runners to start at the same time as that would make it feel the most like a real race. However, we did notice that with having a longer start window runners that have never led a race before were able to hang on the top of the leaderboards for hours if they started early enough. This was an exciting and unexpected feature that had participants watching the app all day to see if they could hang onto the position that they were in.”
That kind of prolonged engagement allows RTRT to capitalize on some of its built-in app features for sponsor promotion and engagement, which are fully integrated into its app experience and provide valuable, trackable eyeballs on branding for event supporters and partners.
“The Real-Time Race Tracking experience exceeded our expectations as Event Directors and our runners were excited with the infusion of technology into an industry that traditionally is lacking in that area,” Hamernik said.
As fall races continue to cancel due to the pandemic, RTRT knows that they can help – and they’re anxious to do so. Dill has a long history of applying his technical talent, which he first applied in the financial sector, to any programming problem the endurance industry has to solve. They’ve ranged from volunteer databases to broadcast feeds to branded apps. In 2016, RTRT provided finisher data for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in LA on the fly when the designated source of data suffered technical difficulties. In January of this year, RTRT was the official tracking provider for the Trials in Atlanta, with more than a half million viewers logging on to watch the race.
From that milestone to today’s uncertain climate for live events, RTRT is focused on providing a memorable participant experience, even when the runner doesn’t leave their own neighborhood.
“We really want to do larger races using this technology. Our scalability is our No. 1 strength,” said Dill. “We know that we can do a live race with thousands and thousands of people, all at the same time, and just have something amazing happen that probably isn’t possible on most other platforms right now.”
To learn more about RTRT’s product offerings and how they can benefit your event, reach out to Paul Farmer at [email protected] or visit us on the web at https://rtrt.me/contact.
Click here to learn more about Real-Time Race Racing by RTRT.me
Download the RTRT.me app here