Not much of a road runner but always wanted to experience the excitement of participating in a road race? Treadmill jockeys, never fear: there’s an app for that. The New Balance Falmouth Road Race, which will take place in Falmouth, Massachusetts on August 16th, wouldn’t ordinarily generate headlines except for one detail: this year, “virtual runners” will be able to log in and participate using an interactive HD video of the actual course in new “Remote Participant” category.
To be fair, it’s not just treadmill runners who are eligible to participate. Remote runners who can’t participate because of geographic distance or those who simply don’t like crowds can use their digital devices to participate. (Although running on a road or track carrying a digital device could be prohibitively awkward.) According to Running USA, the Falmouth Road Race has partnered with technology solutions provider Outside Interactive, a Hopkinton, Massachusetts-based developer of forward motion video software technology for treadmill runners, to create a digital race-day experience for runners who want to officially participate in the August 16 race, but didn’t make the field or can’t make the live event.
“For runners who want to be a part of the Falmouth Road Race but didn’t get in, or find themselves stationed overseas or otherwise geographically challenged, this is the next best thing to being there,” said Gary McNamee, founder and president of Outside Interactive. “We’re thrilled that Falmouth recognizes the value in offering this new, forward-thinking opportunity to displaced runners.”
Virtual participants need only download the custom HD course video and then access and view it on their treadmill via an iPad (iOS) or tablet (Android). The software will keep runners visually on their spot in the course according to their pace. Virtual participants will pay a discounted entrance fee compared to physical course runners -- $40 for virtual racers and $65 for actual road racers – and includes the app and video, a finisher’s certificate, official recording of the participant’s race results, a gift bag, a mug and a keychain. Remote participants also will be automatically entered in a special lottery for a chance to run the event live in 2016, according to the race organizers. (Registration is here and open until race day for virtual participants.)
The Outside Interactive technology, which was launched in January of this year, allows viewers to run virtual race events such as the Falmouth race, but also to visualize popular running routes and scenic destinations, all from the treadmill. Virtual races are becoming more prevalent, particularly for events that raise money for charity. Race directors, looking for new sources of revenue, have also been open to including more virtual participants.