By Yepoka Yeebo
MANHATTAN — Marathon spectators can track friends, family and celebrity runners with a whole host of websites and cell phone applications this year.
In an effort to make sure hours of waiting pay-off for race watchers, New York Road Runners, who helps run the marathon, is tracking each runner individually for the first time ever. Every marathon runner will have blue tags containing tracking chips tied to their shoe laces, allowing marathon organizers to track their positions in five mile stages. NYRR will make the data available online, via text message and through smart phone applications.
"The marathon theme this year has 'I'm in, We're In.' I know you've seen that on the buses and subways and everywhere else. The third element of that is called 'Tune In,'" NYRR Administration and Operations Vice President Ken Winell told NY1. "What we've addressed is ways to get at the marathon from everywhere."
Race watchers can call 800-496-6193 and key in a bib number to find out when a runner is likely to finish — or if they're in a medical tent. Spectators can also track runners on the official marathon website by typing in a name, bib number or country. "Athlete Alert," lets users track up to three users by text message for $2.99.
An Apple App lets users watch live video, and download photos as well as track up to five runners for $3.99. Android and BlackBerry users are out of luck this year, but there are plans for apps in time for next year's race.
The marathon has attracted a number of celebrities this year, running the gamut from Chilean miner Edison Pena, who ran six miles every day while trapped for 69 days, to Food Network star and chef Bobby Flay.
Sports personalities like tennis pros Andy Roddick and Justin Gimelstob, and former New York Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer will be running for charity, as will restaurateurs Joe Bastianich and Joe Campanale.
They will be joined by Today Show star Al Roker, actors Kirk Acevedo, Anthony Edwards and Terrell Tilford, and Broadway stars Shayna Steele, Sarah Darling and Rory O'Malley, the Wall Street Journal reports.