MarathonFoto’s Immediacy Project, In Action at the TCS New York City Marathon

Rich Harshbarger, Running USA
December 6, 2016

MarathonFoto’s Immediacy Project delivers images from key positions to participants in minutes, not hours


2016 TCS New York City Marathon - MarathonFotoFor the 51,388 finishers of the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon, months of training turns to several hours on the course on race day. The elation and emotion of crossing that finish line, though, might last a lifetime.


To capture those memories as close to the moment as possible, industry leader MarathonFoto has doubled down on new technology that is changing and improving endurance photography. 


MarathonFoto’s Immediacy Project delivers images from key positions to participants in minutes, not hours. It is one of several technology initiatives that MarathonFoto developed in the last year. Participants are also experiencing their new responsive website that was launched earlier in the year and creates a great mobile experience.


Many event photography companies take several days before their post-race image galleries are available. MarathonFoto has dramatically reduced this process to minutes. To better understand this technology, I was invited to see it first hand on race-day. 


Using new software and partnering with RFID chips from runners’ bibs, participants at the TCS New York City Marathon received high-quality images within minutes of crossing the finish line in Central Park. The ability to marry images with timing data allowed MarathonFoto to deliver individualized emails to each runner, prompting them to check out their finish line image in their photo gallery and begin making purchases – while still cooling down from the event. Loved ones could also access galleries and purchase gift packages as they were populated. 


The morning began over the start-line in Staten Island. Jay Sutherland, MarathonFoto's Director of Sales and Marketing, myself and two photographers boarded one of only eight helicopters allowed to fly around the Verrazano Bridge. There were also nearly 200 other photographers working with MarathonFoto at the start, along the course and at the finish line. The 1.4 million images that were captured that day were constantly being uploaded and tagged throughout the day to give each finisher nearly 30 images to choose from. 


2016 TCS New York City Marathon - MarathonFotoOnce we had gathered the necessary images from the air, we headed from the heliport to the finish line.  Atop the photo bridge, Bruce Franke, Chief Revenue Officer of MarathonFoto’s parent company Iconic Group, showed me exactly how the software worked.  Images from stationary cameras as well as from those finish line photographers were the first images sent to the runner’s gallery.  Image after image would appear on a tablet and within seconds, be joined by another.  Tight shots, wide shots, vertical and horizontal, and yes, even video clips were being recorded. 


Denise Conroy, CEO of Iconic Group was very pleased with the results stating, “I am proud of these new developments at MarathonFoto. An unparalleled consumer experience is our goal, and we’re continuously reinventing our product offering to achieve that. There are several more projects in the works aimed at deliveringa better consumer experience, including an offering that employs facial recognition. That’s never been offered to participants, and it’s a game changer because it automatically curates treasured images with friends and family on race day.”


2016 TCS New York City Marathon - MarathonFotoWhile exact details are proprietary, MarathonFoto was impressed with the results, citing that this was the first time the technology was used at a major race and more than 100,000 images were sent to finishers within minutes of crossing the finish line via individualized email notices. Early sales volumes were, “higher than normal,” Conroy said.


There is no question that the TCS New York City Marathon is a world-class event. MarathonFoto’s immediacy project added yet another layer of a great consumer experience that runners will soon expect at many other races worldwide. To learn more about this technology, please email or call Jay Sutherland at or 972-330-7656.

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