“Runcation” with a Destination Race Experience

With so many races to choose from, runners often select races that can offer something truly personal to add to the race day experience not only for themselves, but also for their supporting family and friends – like planning a vacation around the race weekend.

Many races are now finding ways to offer a look into the uniqueness of the local community and to provide different course distance options for participants with varying athletic abilities. These types of races focus on an increasingly popular aspect of running –  a socially shared experience with a focus on quality and scenic destinations.

We’ve seen races truly committed to offering the highest quality, personal experience they can for the participants and spectators – these races tend to be the ones that want to offer RaceJoy. The Grand Canyon Half, organized by Vacation Races, and the Santa Barbara Marathon, organized by Destination Races, are two examples of races this past weekend that focused on providing a unique destination race experience.

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Grand Canyon Half Marathon

The Grand Canyon Half is part of the National Park Half Marathon Series and this past weekend the race helped celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th birthday! If you’ve ever been to the Grand Canyon, you know that it is a truly unique and breathtaking place in our country. Race organizers provided RaceJoy as a complimentary service to participants and spectators for access to free live tracking, progress alerts and cheers.

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The Grand Canyon Half Marathon is a trail race that offers runners and walkers an unbeatable nature run in Tusayan, AZ. The course is run right on the border of the national park, since access to run inside the park boundaries is not permitted. It takes place in the Kaibab National Forest. As part of the experience, participants were offered the ability with RaceJoy to be live tracked and receive progress alerts at every mile along the course with information like pace and estimated finish time based on their GPS location – 4,100 alerts were sent!

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An interesting statistic – people spend only about 20 minutes looking at the Grand Canyon before moving on. This could be because people are used to hiking up for a spectacular view, not down. If you’ve never hiked below the rim of the Grand Canyon, this may be a bucket list addition for you after you do the run, of course!

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Vacation Races organizes nine races each year, all centered around a different National Park. Their goal is to change perspectives and provide an opportunity for runners to experience the gorgeous parks across the country. The race organizers are dedicated to convenience and innovation – evident through their cup-free policy, refund options, and by providing RaceJoy at its races.

Vacation Races organizes the following races throughout the year:

 

Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon

The Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon offers an ideal destination running experience as well. Every year, the race is held in early May on Mother’s Day weekend, providing the perfect time to visit the Santa Ynez Valley for an outdoor recreational “runcation” and enjoy the local vineyards. This race provided RaceJoy’s live tracking features to participants and spectators for a  99 cents in-app fee.

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The scenic course runs from downtown Santa Ynez through Los Olivos into the Danish-settled town of Solvang. The valley offers plenty to do, including the beach, hiking, biking, running trails, historic towns, shopping and restaurants, and of course, an abundance of wineries and tasting rooms. The alerts were sent at every mile along the course to participants who opted for the live phone tracking and GPS-based progress alerts – 1,240 alerts were sent.

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It’s a perfect way to celebrate Mother’s Day together to enjoy a weekend full of activities and to celebrate at the expanded post-race Wine & Music Festival in Solvang Park.

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Destination Races organizes eight races across the country, taking runners to some of the finest regions in the world, providing an opportunity to smell, taste and feel the terrain of each unique destination. Each race event is crafted to provide something new.

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Dedicated to quality, all the Wine Country Half Marathons have limited fields, ensuring a stress-free environment while enjoying wine country ambiance and a thrilling race day experience. Race organizers partner with tourism related businesses in the regions to showcase a local bounty, creating a wine, culinary, and fitness themed “runcation.”

Destination Races organizes the following races throughout the year:

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Each of these race organizations offers a unique race experience for participants and spectators to plan a vacation around. One of the best things about these races is that you know there will be consistencies in the quality of the service and a dedication to providing the best possible race day experience at each race. So, if you are planning a family vacation or a girls’ weekend away, both offer options to experience beautiful parts of United States.

Thank you race organizers for providing a one-of-a-kind experience for participants to share with friends and family and for your dedication to quality and innovation. Together, we are changing the race experience!

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If you’d like to offer RaceJoy at your race, click here. All we need is an accurate electronic course map (GPX or KML) and two weeks lead time. Affordable buyout options are available for race organizers and sponsors who wish to offer RaceJoy’s advanced tracking and cheers as a free service to participants and spectators. There is also a free-to-the-race option in which the participants and spectators pay a per race in-app upgrade fee of 99 cents (must have at least one course that is 10K or greater).

 

Do Runners Carry Their Phones While Running?

According to the soon to be released Running USA’s 2016 National Runner Survey, the answer is YES! This year’s study reports that 60% of runners carry their phones while running. This number continues to rise each year and shows the growing influence that technology has on the running industry –this is great news for RaceJoy!

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 We believe this continued growth of runners carrying their phone is due to the growing capabilities that phones offer a runner to add to and help their running experience, including the motivation of music, live tracking, cheer sending, performance updates, photo taking and connecting with others. It was the vision behind RaceJoy and one we are happy to see being fulfilled!

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Runners Carrying Phones During Race Events

All types of runners carry their phones and use RaceJoy during the race; the “Serious Steves”, as we like to call them, to the “Novice Nancys”.  In the end each is accomplishing a personal goal and want to share that achievement with others. As phones have become more powerful, manufacturers have kept the formats streamlined and light. The iPhone 6 weighs in at 4.55 ounces where the Samsung Galaxy S6 weighs 4.87 ounces. It is a bit interesting when we encounter a petite runner carrying one of the larger phone formats like the iPhone 6Plus (6.07 ounces). So hard not to tease when the phone is bigger than their head! Though, the majority of RaceJoy users continue to be iPhone 6 and 5 users.

The Running USA study also reports that 50% runners are sharing their race experience with others through social media, which shows road races have become more of a socially shared experience. We definitely see this growing trend in RaceJoy with race participants using RaceJoy to post their progress alerts to their personal Facebook and Twitter walls – though Facebook continues to have much greater posts than Twitter. Since RaceJoy issues progress alerts at every mile on the course, this provides valuable promotion for the race and sponsor.

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Facebook and Twitter Progress Alert Postings

Another growing trend from the study? 40% of runners listed Facebook as the primary method for finding out about a race. This creates an opportunity for the races to connect with a larger pool of potential registrants and expand their reach to include race participants’ Facebook friends and families.

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RaceJoy gives participants an easy-to-use platform to spread the word about an upcoming race on their Facebook and Twitter walls. Runners build their personal race day fan club by posting “Track and Send Me Cheer” requests for an upcoming event. Each post provides valuable exposure for the race.

These are just a few highlights that Running USA shared about their 2016 National Runner Survey which is set to release on Thursday, April 28. For more information, click here.

About RaceJoy

RaceJoy is a mobile app designed for runners, walkers and cyclists to have an innovative race experience and to share it with family and friends. The features are founded on the latest technology, using the GPS location of a participant’s phone to provide live, continuous tracking on an interactive course map, progress alerts (typically at every mile) with pace and estimated finish time, and motivational cheer sending.

If you’d like to offer RaceJoy to your participants and spectators, you can load your race through RaceJoy’s Website or on your race’s RunSignUp dashboard. We require a two-week minimum load time.

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RaceJoy Goes the Distance

This past weekend, RaceJoy was available for many different road races across the country, including two ultra distance courses where we experienced record-breaking usage by some incredible long-distance athletes.

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The longest usage of RaceJoy’s GPS tracking to date occurred at this past weekend’s Burning River 100 Mile event in Willoughby, Ohio with close to 30 hours of live tracking. One race participant in particular, Jeff, was tracked for more than 28 hours and was one of the finishers of the 100-mile race. Jordan was another solo runner in the 100-mile course and was live tracked for more than 26 straight hours. Yes, Jeff and Jordan had the harder job to do compared to RaceJoy, but that is some impressive tracking of some incredible athletes!

Jordan shared with us that he used an Android Turbo phone for the first 15 hours and at mile 75 he plugged his phone into an Anker portable charger. At that point he still had 35-40% battery left in his phone. Sounds like one charged up phone (pun intended), and 15 hours of GPS tracking before adding on a battery is definitely a record for us.

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Race organizers who work with RaceJoy have the flexibility to customize the GPS-based progress alerts issued through RaceJoy or to use our standard mile marker alerts. The Burning River race director provided us with specific locations and unique naming for customized Station alerts set up throughout the course. These Stations served as check points for solo runners and as transitions for the 100-mile relay participants. Some of the Stations along the Burning River were at locations such as:

  • Shadow Lake
  • Snowville
  • Pine Lane
  • Polo Fields
  • Old Mill

RaceJoy issued performance information as participants crossed these points on the course. RaceJoy also issued finish alerts for participants that were within 30 seconds of official race timed finish alerts. Not too bad for 100 miles of GPS-based tracking!

Race director of the Burning River, Jim Christ, shared:

I just had to send you a note to let you know the RaceJoy app was amazing over the weekend.

I tracked a 100-mile participant and a relay runner to see how it worked. At our post race social one of the 100 miler’s raved about how he knew whether he was on/off course, and his crew and family loved sending him cheers and tracking him. He tucked his smartphone in one race vest pocket and an extra battery in the other…connected them together and was all set.

I can’t tell you how satisfied we are with your app. Having the ability to track people in park systems (off road) on a 100 mile point-to-point course is so important at many levels, including potential medical emergencies.

Thank you!

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RaceJoy reached another exciting milestone this weekend at the Ultra Around the Lake race. Sarah, a marathon participant, used RaceJoy’s live GPS tracking for close to 8 hours without aid from external battery sources. Sarah used an Apple phone and did not have assistance from a Turbo boosted phone like Jordan. With most tracking apps lasting about 3 hours, this showcases RaceJoy’s impressive optimization of the phone’s battery. Along with live tracking, Sarah received GPS-based progress alerts at every mile along the marathon course.

With the determination of these ultra distance runners and the ever-improving technology of RaceJoy, participants across the country were able to have family and friends share in their impressive accomplishments and receive the support and motivation from those they care about. Thanks to all of you who used RaceJoy and a big congratulations to these dedicated finishers!

burningriverlogoThe Burning River Endurance Run & Relay is an exciting 100- and 50-mile solo run and 100 mile relay. The race travels through several of the Northwest Ohio region’s most scenic areas, including the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the Cleveland Metroparks and the Summit Metroparks.

ultralakelogoThe Ultra Around the Lake race is held by the Somerville Road Runners and offers four events – 24-hour ultra, 12-hour ultra, 24-hour relay and a marathon. The courses are flat on sidewalks and paths around the scenic Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield, Massachusetts. The 24-hour race raises funds each year for Wakefield Educational Foundation and Christmas in the City.

RaceJoy News: 2015 Zions Bank Ogden Marathon Brings Joy to the Race

OgdenPhoneThe Zions Bank Ogden Marathon, a GOAL Foundation event, to be held on May 16, 2015, is once again offering RaceJoy, a RunSignUp mobile race application. This is the second year race organizers offer RaceJoy to provide a unique experience for participants and spectators. With features like live runner GPS tracking, timing progress alerts, cheer sending, and instant race results, users will be able to have real-time information and live interaction during the race. The Zions Bank Ogden Marathon, known for offering one of the most scenic courses in the country, provides this innovation to help encourage and motivate participants who come from all 50 states and 13 countries to embrace a healthy lifestyle that includes running. This event was one of the first marathons in the country to offer RaceJoy in 2014 and race participants and organizers embraced the new technology with enthusiasm.

Learn more about how Zions Bank Ogden Marathon Organizers Offer RaceJoy to Provide 10,000 Participants an Innovative Experience

Ultra Relay Runners Use RaceJoy’s Live GPS Tracking

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Starting on Friday, May 1 and running through Saturday, May 2, we had participants in the American Odyssey Ultra Relay race use RaceJoy’s live GPS tracking. This is a 200-mile, 36-hour relay race that travels from Gettysburg to Washington, DC. The race offers an “Odyssey” travel through history and defines Odyssey as:

…a long series of wanderings or adventures, especially when filled with notable experiences and hardships…”

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The event’s race director reached out to us to see about using RaceJoy for tracking and we loaded in the course map with the various legs of this historic odyssey event. 120 race participants had their phones tracked during the weekend and 60 additional spectators tracking them live on the course. Participants and spectators sent 450 audio cheer clips in RaceJoy, sustaining the relay runners through 36 hours of running.

Race directors of Ultra events report a consistent issue with people getting lost. The participants can get in a kind of mindless running state, some even miss turns. This can turn into a big problem and can be pretty scary for the runner – especially at night. With RaceJoy, the runner can quickly view themselves in relation to the course using either the tracking screen or the MeetUp feature and quickly get back on track. And others can see right where the runner is and call them when seeing they are off course.

What was interesting about this, was seeing the teams use tracking to help coordinate and plan the run. We saw that most kept their tracking on even went they weren’t running the current leg. And, it went both ways; not only did the team track the runner on the current leg, but the runners could see where their teammates were at any time. We are seeing a lot of interest from relay teams for RaceJoy and for all types of race events.

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If you are a race organizer and would like to get your race added to RaceJoy, simply enable RaceJoy in the RunSignUp GO platform and provide your course map electronically (KML, GPX or link to map). You can also email this to addrace@racejoy.com. We require a minimum of two weeks to load and will send you notice and promotion toolkit once it is active. This is free to the event and the participant and spectator pay a 99 cents per race upgrade fee. Buyout options are available for race organizers to offer RaceJoy for free. For more information on the buyout option, please see our PhoneTrak Pricing Flyer.

PhoneTrakPhoneRaceJoy key features:

Live phone tracking

Audio cheer sending

Near Me Proximity alerts

MeetUp mapping feature

Now Available! GPS Progress Alerts

Road, Mud, Trail – You Move, We Follow!

All types of running events are sharing their excitement for RaceJoy’s cutting edge tracking technology. This last weekend we had six road races, a trail run and an obstacle course with lots of mud. Before going further – as this will simply be a thought you can’t shake – what did they do to protect their phones? Well, the race director purchased special phone protectors for those who wanted to use RaceJoy. Now, that is a race director who covers all the details!

Below are screen captures of the Mud Dog Run race in Maryland showcasing RaceJoy’s GPS alert system in which we issued alerts as people crossed certain obstacle points on the course – love the Trash Dog Dumpster!

The Pittsburgh Wild Half Trail Race was a great trail race with a course that looks like a nicely drawn Etch A Sketch. Race participants really liked this course and said it was a lot of fun. We were happy to see the cell conditions were solid and RaceJoy was able to track, send alerts and issue cheers to participants throughout the event.

RaceJoy Race Winner! RunAPalooza!
RaceJoy Race Winner! RunAPalooza!

The race with the highest usage this weekend was, by far, RunAPalooza in Asbury, New Jersey. This race offers a half marathon, relay event, and 5K course option. We saw some seriously fast runners at this race and live tracked close to 120 participants on race day. The race director was very excited to share RaceJoy’s new technology with his participants and did a great job getting the word out and to gather feedback after the event. Thanks, Bob!

We also had runners at the Statue to Statue 15K in Alabama, the Biggest Loser Half Marathon in Alabama, and the Run to the Rapids in Ohio. RaceJoy issued close to 3,000 GPS-based progress alerts and more than 500 cheers to race participants over the weekend.

One thing we learned this weekend regarding our new GPS Progress Alert feature is that some may not be understanding that the race participant must use RaceJoy for spectators to track them. We believe this confusion is because of what people have experienced with timing system-based progress alerts in which the spectator can track any race participant. With timing system-based alerts, the tracking is done as the participant’s bib or shoe tag crosses the timing equipment on the course. With RaceJoy’s GPS-based alerts, we use the participant’s phone as the tracking device for RaceJoy to communicate the phone’s location and performance data. Therefore, participants must use RaceJoy for spectators to receive GPS-based alerts and watch their progress on the map. Most people seem to understand this, but we have seen some misunderstand and think they should be able to find all race participants in RaceJoy. So, we will be exploring ways to communicate this more clearly to our users.

It is important to note that GPS is not an exact science and RaceJoy’s GPS-based alerts should not be viewed as a replacement for official race timing information. However, it is a valuable tool for tracking and to get more, real-time updates on your progress.

Special thanks to the race directors at these races who are early adopters and who are helping to spread the word about RaceJoy and bring new, improved race experiences to their events. We appreciate your support and enthusiasm!

If you are a race organizer and would like to get your race added to RaceJoy, simply enable RaceJoy in the RunSignUp GO platform and provide your course map electronically (KML, GPX or link to map). You can also email this to addrace@racejoy.com. We require a minimum of two weeks to load and will send you a notice and promotion toolkit once it is active. This is free to the event and the participant and spectator pay a 99 cents per race upgrade fee. Buyout options are also available for race organizers to offer RaceJoy for free. For more information about this option, please see our PhoneTrak Pricing Flyer.

PhoneTrakPhoneRaceJoy key features:

Live phone tracking

Audio cheer sending

Near Me Proximity alerts

MeetUp mapping feature

Now Available! GPS Progress Alerts

Scranton Half Marathon Embraces RaceJoy’s GPS Tracking

This past weekend was a big race weekend in the United States. Overall, RaceJoy had close to 2,000 users over the course of the weekend and 340 phones were tracked with at least one supporting spectator tracking them. More than 7,000 GPS-timed Progress Alerts were sent out, as well as 1,700 cheers. We are continuing to fine-tune the GPS alert system and requesting feedback from participants and spectators. We are very excited by the energized response that we’ve been receiving.

ScrantonAlert1The Scranton Half Marathon (in Scranton, Pennsylvania) was one of the races that had participants proactively request to have the race loaded into the RaceJoy app. The race also took efforts to spread the word with their participants that live runner tracking and cheer sending was available for those who carry a phone and purchase the 99 cents upgrade in RaceJoy.

Their efforts resulted in more than 300 people using RaceJoy during the Scranton Half Marathon for live phone tracking and sending of fun audio cheers. Participants also were able to try out the latest RaceJoy feature of GPS progress alerts. This new feature sends audio performance updates on every mile on the course. Close to 2,200 GPS-timed progress alerts were issued real-time during the race.

Though, we did see a condition where some received only the first five miles of alerts and are addressing that in our next release.

During the race, 135 participants were tracked live on an interactive map by spectators who, on average, were two to a participant. Supporting fans sent 650 cheers to participants to help motivate them throughout the race.

Participants also had their progress posted automatically on their Facebook and Twitter walls letting people know how they were doing at every mile on the course.

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When the race director, Justin Sandy, was asked what he did to spread the word, he shared the race organizers’ part in letting people know:

Really all we did was put it out there on Facebook and then brought it up in conversation to people at the race expo.  I would pull the app up show them what it could do and explain it.  I also discussed it at a race dinner that a large group of participants put on. I think the most effective thing was getting out there and discussing it with phone in hand.”

We definitely see a social aspect to RaceJoy, where word-of-mouth spreads and increases usage. As people become aware of RaceJoy for a given event, the usage grows and many times doubles between the night before the race and by the end of race day.

There were many other races in RaceJoy this last weekend, including Rock the Parkway (blog to follow), Blooms to Brews Marathon, and Altamont Marathon. In addition, the historic Cherry Blossom Ten Mile run had more than one hundred people use RaceJoy’s tracking capabilities and supporting fans sent 200 cheers.

Add a Race

If you are a race organizer and would like to get your race added to RaceJoy, simply enable RaceJoy in the RunSignUp GO platform and provide your course map electronically (KML, GPX or link to map). You can also email us this information at addrace@racejoy.com. We require a minimum of two weeks prior to the race date to load an event into RaceJoy and will send you a notice and promotion toolkit once it is active. This is free to the event and the participant and spectator pay a 99 cents per race upgrade fee.

PhoneTrakPhoneRaceJoy key features:

  • Live phone tracking
  • Audio cheer sending
  • Near Me Proximity alerts
  • MeetUp mapping feature
  • Now Available! GPS Progress Alerts