Monday, June 20, 2005

If only Chicago's Lakeshore Marathon had this Finnish line tool....

When Finland comes to mind, if it does at all, it means to most people Nokia and its tech-savvy cellular phones.

Up until the mid-1970s, however, to most people Finland meant: great long distance runners. Now Kenya reserves that great honor in most people's thoughts.

Paavo Nurmi was the greatest of the Finnish runners, winning an astonishing nine Olympic gold medals. Finland's streak of great runners came to an end, when Lasse Viren struck Olympic gold in the 5000 and 10,ooo meter runs in 1976 (repeating the same "double" he achieved in the 1972 games.)

This year, "old" and "new" Finland come together as the World Track and Field Championships will be held in Helsinki in August.

From Innovations Report:

When runners begin the marathon at the Athletic World Championships in Helsinki this August, they will have a high-tech edge, thanks to a Finnish start-up firm.

The race course has been recorded in detail and sent to competitors to help them prepare for the competition. The data was compiled by the FRWD Sport Performance Recorder, a strap-on gadget that measures race route, distance and speed using GPS technology, as well as an individual athlete’s heart rate, altitude and other data.

The accompanying software enables the user to move through two-dimensional or three-dimensional animations of the route, complete with a terrain profile.

“The IAAF has forwarded the FRWD file of the marathon to all participating national teams, so they can get to know the route profile in advance in every detail, including all the slopes, twists, turns and so on,” explains Mari Pajunen, Marketing Coordinator at FRWD Technologies. “This is the first time that an organising committee has ever offered such an opportunity.”

So tech-Finland and running-Finland have come together. Too bad the race director of last month's ill-fated Lakeshore Marathon didn't have this course mapping too, devoloped for the this year's track and field world championships. As blogged about here on Marathon Pundit, that race ended up being 27.2 miles, and official marathons are only supposed to be just 26.2 mile long.

Hat tip to the blog Running at the Mouth.

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