Thursday, May 12, 2011

Marathon Sunday: Tough Traffic, Better Course

Racers and supporters could be tied to their cell phones Sunday in an effort to get the latest information about the Pittsburgh Marathon and the runners. The Pittsburgh Marathon has rolled out several new cell phone-related technologies including something they are calling the Broadcast Emergency Alert Notification System or “BEAN.” “[Racers] will be able to put their cell phone numbers in and this will be our way of notifying runners of any changes in our course, any other changes that we have race weekend,” said race organizer Patrice Matamoros. The system was envisioned after a microwave over left near the finish line caused police to shut off a section of the course last year.

Racers can also sign up their fans for text alerts. Every time the runner passes over a timing mat a text message will be sent including the time the runner crossed the mat and their estimated finish time, said Matamoros. It can also be linked to Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The new course starts at 6th and Liberty Downtown and runners will not have to make their first turn for three miles, giving tem a chance for a quick and easy start. The runners will finish on the North Shore near the new Stage A-E concert venue. “Our Runners are going to walk off into Gold Lot 1 and we also have a lot of the surrounding parking lots for a huge festival on race day,” said Matamoros.

Racers will also be kept up to date on weather conditions. The traditional series of color-coded flags will be used to let runners know when heat, humidity, sunshine and other factors are combining for dangerous conditions, however this year runners will also see the information on electronic signs posted throughout the course.

Organizers are encouraging racers to plan to arrive for the race by 5:00am. We know how the North Shore handles traffic for sporting events but it is unclear how the traffic will flow with everyone trying to park in a two hour time period, said Matamoros.

Getting around the city could be tough Sunday. A long list of timed road closures has been posted and routes to move motorized traffic in an out of the race loop can be found on the map provided by the Pittsburgh Marathon.

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