RaceJoy Debuts Industry First: GPS Progress Alerts

RaceJoyRaceJoy Launches Timing Progress Alerts Based Upon GPS Tracking

March 25, 2015 – Moorestown, NJ – RunSignUp, the leading industry innovator for race events, timing service providers, running stores and clubs, announces RaceJoy’s newest industry breakthrough, GPS Progress Alerts. RaceJoy, the premier mobile solution provider for race participant live tracking and cheer sending, breaks new ground with the introduction of timed progress alerts based upon the participant’s GPS position. RaceJoy is a unique mobile platform that is focused exclusively on the race and provides real-time interactive experiences for participants with their social circle of friends and family.

“We are extremely excited to be bringing this innovation to the industry and know it is opening a whole new race day experience. We see this as a true game changer. Race organizers can now offer advanced runner tracking regardless of the size of the race and timers are able to round out their offering to include additional data points combined with their official timing points on the course. Moreover, participants are able to experience the race in a way not experienced before with greater real-time information and motivational encouragement from their supporting fans,” said Bob Bickel, Founder of RunSignUp.

RaceJoy GPS Timing SplitRaceJoy, known for being the only solution to offer live GPS tracking for race day continues to push the envelope with GPS progress alerts. Participants who carry their phone can receive audio alerts real-time with performance information at every mile point on the course, providing current position, time elapsed, pace and estimated finish time. Their family and friends are able to monitor and support their progress at the race site or remotely by tracking them live on the course map and receiving continual performance updates.

RunSignUp introduced the GPS progress alerts at seven races this last week and is continuing to debut this new feature in RaceJoy for participants and spectators at eleven upcoming races this weekend, including the Cooper River Bridge Run and Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K and The Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle.

“This is an exciting next step for RaceJoy. We started with live GPS tracking, then audio cheer clips and now progress alerts that are flexible and adaptable to changing conditions on race day. Every race we learn from and improve the experience. For example, we are adjusting the technology to accommodate last minute changes on the course or start delays – all of which affect the GPS tracking since we are tying the data recorded specifically to the race course versus just generic tracking. This means we are able to provide valuable race day data that is adaptable and real-time,” said James Harris, Founder of RaceJoy and Co-Chief Technology Officer of RunSignUp.

Race organizers can request to have their race listed within RaceJoy at no charge by sending their request to addrace@racejoy.com with an electronic version of their course map (GPX or KML file format or URL link) or enable under Go Race Day on RunSignUp’s platform. Race participants and spectators pay an in-App upgrade fee of 99 cents per race.

About RunSignUp

RunSignUp is the leading innovator of online tools for Races and Running Clubs. Services include RunSignUp for race registration, RunSignUp Go for Race Day, RunSignUp RD Go for Timers, RunSignUp Clubs to enable membership management, and RaceJoy for mobile race experiences. More than 4,000 race directors, timers, and running club officers use these services today, including leading organizations like the Boilermaker Road Race, Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon, Inc., Fifth Third River Bank Run, The Graffiti Run, The Glo Run, Leone Timing, and many more. Services are free except for processing fees when conducting monetary transactions such as race registration or club membership renewals. RunSignUp is founded by runners for runners, using technical capabilities to bring the power of cloud computing to benefit the running community. For more information, visit www.runsignup.com.

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Database Upgrade – New Financial System

TransactionsThis was a major upgrade and we had to do a major database upgrade which caused our system to be unavailable for less than 5 minutes this morning. There was a gap of about 6 minutes between the last registration before the upgrade and the first registration after the upgrade was complete.

The good news is that the new payment system is released. All new customers will need to setup their accounts in the new system. Existing customers can upgrade at any time.

The new financial upgrade will bring faster payments and better reporting to our users.

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Easier Sponsor Coupons

We added the ability to specify the link for an image uploaded in a custom section. This means that you can upload coupon images to appear on your Race Info page that will link to a specific website when they are clicked on. Since it is in a custom section, it will be on the Confirmation page and the confirmation email.

Here is an example for the Scott Coffee Race:

Image Links

All you need to do is upload an image in your custom section and set the URL as shown below:

Custom Images

This will become even more powerful when we introduce the new runner User Interface later this spring.

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RaceJoy GPS Timing Splits Updates

RaceJoyWe have been live for a couple of weeks with the new GPS Timing Splits capability in RaceJoy. This is the new feature that takes RaceJoy beyond just GPS Tracking, RaceJoy Start Noticeand delivers splits to runners and spectators as shown on the right. We had 320 runners using RaceJoy and there were 5,557 progress alerts to runners and spectators using RaceJoy across those 5 races.

There is a lot of software needed to make this happen, and with software there are always lessons learned and revisions that we like to make to meet runner’s needs even better. This past weekend we had 5 races using this feature and we have figured out a couple of updates based on our observations.

First, we are going to require that the “Start” button is clicked to figure out a good start time. We had an algorithm to try to figure out when people started, but the problem with larger races is that people back from the starting line are moving very slowly and getting an accurate GPS read on when they cross the start line is nearly impossible with today’s technology. Perhaps int he future when we integrate RaceJoy with The Race Director and other scoring and timing systems RaceJoy GPS Timing Splitwe will be able to correlate the chip recording of crossing the start mat and use that as the start for the GPS timing.

Second, we had a race that changed their course at the last minute due to flooding conditions along the course. So the timing splits stopped after mile 7 of the half marathon. Runners eventually got back on the course, so the finish was the same. We are going to be adding in extra logic and messaging to help spectators and runners interpret their timing splits better for this case.

We have 11 races using GPS Tracking and GPS Timing Splits this weekend and hope to learn more!

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Continuous Improvement

Continuous ImprovementWe have written about this before. At RunSignup this is both a cultural component as well as a technical foundation.

Culturally, we seek to continuously improve. We try to develop good solutions for customers, but they are never perfect. We learn from the feedback and then make improvements. You can see this by how we issue new releases of old functionality like Teams, Donations, Results, TXT Messaging, etc. This cultural acceptance of not being perfect and always listening for ideas for improvement give us literally thousands (we had over 1,800 releases in 2014) of micro-improvements, like the little report we added to the daily registration email today. This allows us to serve our customers well.

Technically, we have built a high availability platform that allows us to make changes to the code and infrastructure and have zero downtime for all but the biggest changes to the database (we have one coming on Thursday). Over the past several weeks we have completely upgraded the servers we are running on Amazon AWS to the configuration we outlined in the Boilermaker opening blog.  With zero downtime. In fact the system is now designed with higher availability and you may have noticed the site got several milliseconds faster :-)

This afternoon, we updated the software infrastructure (upgrade to HVM and a new version of PHP and a new implementation of caching) on all of our webservers. We have pretty high volume right now with several registrations happening every minute. Not a single registration was delayed or interfered with.  Techies call that “PRETTY COOL!”

We invested a lot of expertise and time to give ourselves these capabilities so that we can truly implement our cultural goal of continuous improvement. This means we can serve our customers well – which makes the hard work all worthwhile.

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Registration Summary in Daily Email

Race Directors who have a daily registration summary sent to them via email now have a nice new summary table at the top.  Thanks to Sharon Francis with the Aut2Run race for the idea!

Registration Summary Email

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RaceJoy GPS Timing Splits

RaceJoyRaceJoy has become the go-to mobile app for GPS Tracking. We released a brand new capability over the past two weeks called GPS Timing Splits. The feedback has been great – here is an example:

The Progress Alerts were very motivational.  I loved being told my pace and estimated finish time.  I really think this encouraged me to run a little faster and beat the estimated time.  Will definitely use this app again.  I saw the 15k Hot Chocolate run is on this app.  I will definitely use it and look forward to each progress alert!!!

RaceJoy Timing Points Cooper River Bridge RunGPS Timing Points – GPS Timing Splits are enabled by marking “Timing Points” on your course map. For timers, this is a familiar concept that correlates to how timing mats are put out on a course and the data is fed into their scoring software like The Race Director and marked as timing points. You can see the mile markers on this RaceJoy map of the Cooper River Bridge Run on the right. We will be adding more functionality when you upload your map in RunSignUp to create these GPS Timing Points in the next few months. For now, we will be marking the mile points for each race, and send us email if you need something special.

Note that timing points can be placed anywhere – not just for mile points. They could be for half way points, like 13.1 in a marathon or at 7.5 km for a 15km race.

GPS Timing Splits – Once those GPS Timing Points are defined in the system, RaceJoy will automatically track runners as they cross those timing points, generating GPS Timing Splits. While GPS Timing Splits are not as accurate as timing mats, they are generally within 5 seconds of their actual time.

The RaceJoy app is smart enough to store those GPS Timing Splits in the app as long as they have GPS triangulation. If cell coverage is available, those splits will be instantly uploaded and shared. If there is no cell coverage at that point, then the split will be uploaded when the phone is in cell range.

RaceJoy Progress AlertProgress Alerts – Runners and spectators will receive Progress Alerts when the GPS Timing Splits are uploaded. These will pop up in near real time in the RaceJoy app. They are also available in a stream in the “Buzz Bucket” as shown below:

RaceJoy Timing Splits

GPS Timing Splits adds a new experience to the race experience. It is free for races and timers, and only costs runners and spectators 99 cents for each race.

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