Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sports Watch Idea

You just finished your race and are exhausted. Staggering to the refreshments table, you grab a bottle of water and a banana in hopes they will speed along your quest to become coherent again. About the time the time your world stops spinning, a friend approaches and asks how you did. You glance down at your watch and realize - dang! - you forgot to press the stop button!

Yes, this is me at the
end of my first half mary.
It was your first half marathon. You trained for weeks, had a great race and are now anxiously waiting for the photos to be posted. The notification e-mail finally hits your inbox and you click through to see yourself in that moment of glory - the finish line photo. You scan the tiny, thumbnail images, see the one with the banner stretched over your head and click to enlarge it. The image that pops up on your screen is a huge disappointment, as you realize your photo was snapped at the precise moment you looked down to turn off your watch. Welcome to the club, we'll have you fitted for a jacket.

As I crossed the finish line timing mat at the Jubilee CityFest 8k yesterday an idea popped in my head that sports watch manufacturers might consider: an automatic stop feature. Though I'm no electronics engineer, it doesn't seem it would be difficult to integrate this into their products if they worked with chip timing system manufacturers. These systems basically consist of a passive chip you wear and a device that activates it. The piece that activates the chip, which is usually a mat you run over at the finish line, does so by emitting a radio frequency. If the watch could detect this signal it could be used to stop the timer, right?

Some chip system makers put
their transponders in arches or towers.
It sounds simple in theory, but I realize some kinks would need to be worked out. For instance, what about devices scattered about the course to record timing splits? Obviously, they would have to operate on a different frequency, so as not to prematurely stop the watch. But even this presents an opportunity! What if your watch could record accurate, certified splits instead of relying on inexact GPS coordinates?

What do you think? Am I off my rocker or have I come up with the next big thing in sports watch technology? I have to think a bigger brain has already thought of the idea. Can you think of other ways to achieve this or expand on the idea? Sound off in the comments.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Run For The Heroes - Run Across Georgia

A few months ago when my friend Andy asked if I'd be interested in joining a relay team for a run across Georgia I jumped at the chance. I didn't know anything about it, other than it started in Columbus and ended in Savannah, but a long-distance event like this was something I'd been wanting to do. A few clicks later I'd learned more about the race and the nonprofit organization we'd be raising funds for, House of Heroes.

Starting at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 28th, our team, the Miracle Runners, will be running some 260 miles in the Run For The Heroes - Run Across Georgia. Joined by our support team we will be racing around the clock, hoping to beat the 40-hour cutoff time and 15 other teams (total: 9 military, 7 civilian).

I've had a few people ask me how this relay works, so here are the details. Each of us will run 6 relay segments in a sequential rotating order. The length of each segment ranges anywhere from 3 to 8 miles, and we'll all put in a minimum of 30 miles apiece. If someone gets hurt and has to drop out all other runners are moved up a slot and absorb that person's miles over the remainder of the race.

Now, to the important stuff. Why are we racing? The answer is to promote and raise funds for the House of Heroes. It's a charitable organization that assists disabled veterans and their spouses by performing household repairs, maintenance and improvements and no cost to them. They do everything from painting and cleaning to installing access ramps and repairing basic appliances. Considering the service these vets have given to our country, I'd say what we're doing is a very small way of showing our appreciation.

So, the eight of us are are doing our part, but what about you? What can you do to show your appreciation for those that have sacrificed for your freedom? All we ask is that you make a donation to the House of Heroes. You can do so in the name of our team by one of the following methods:

1. Make a donation online. Click the button below to be taken to PayPal where you can make a secure contribution. In the memo section please note our team name, Miracle Runners, so that accurate records of donations can be kept.

2. Print and mail in a donation form. There's no place for it on the form, but again, please note our team name somewhere on the page.

With the important stuff out of the way, on to the fun stuff. Want to see the Miracle Runners in action? There are a couple of ways you can follow us as we make our way from the National Infantry Museum in Columbus to Emmett Park in Savannah. You can track us online by visiting this page where the map below will be constantly updated with our progress. You can also view the map separately in your browser by clicking on this link, or even on your mobile device with this one.

Another way to track our progress is to join us on Facebook. We'll be posting updates and photos along the way!

We're looking forward to this challenge and hope that you'll take an interest of your own. Thanks for your support, no matter what form it comes in!

Your Miracle Runners are:

- Dorothy Cheruiyot, Captain
- Ashley Arnold
- Chelsea Buttram
- Joanne English
- Timmy English
- Mike Gerber
- Andy Sparks
- Drew Trachy

If you have any questions for the team please post them in the comments or on our Facebook page. We'll respond as quickly as possible.