The tech behind the London Marathon improving user experience

Technology is increasingly being adopted by large sporting events to improve both the participants and the supporters experience.

Sunday, 22 April saw the 38th annual Virgin Money London Marathon take place. Once again a record number of runners took part in this momentous sporting event, while raising awareness and huge amounts of money for numerous fantastic charities.

Runners and supporters, were for the second year running, able to embrace all aspects of the race with the Official Race App, providing digital access to all of event information.

The Official Race App, developed by Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), the official technology partner for the Virgin Money London Marathon for the third year provided digital access to all the action the app included all the features both runners and spectators needed to become fully immersed in one of the world’s most recognisable sporting events.

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The app was downloaded a world record 360,000 times, surpassing the previous record set at the TCS New York Marathon of 334,000 downloads in 2017 – which was also held by a TCS developed mobile app.

With more than 79,000 concurrent users at peak time, the Official Race app also won plaudits for its intuitive user experience, being been named the Sunday Times App of the Week and becoming the top app in the Apple UK app store on race day.

Key to the success of the Official Race App was ensuring performance on the day, knowing it would be used by thousands of people at any one time. In the months prior to race day, the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon Official Race App was rigorously – and manually – tested to ensure the best functionality possible on the day of the event.

One of the most prominent features of the Official Race App was the in-built tracking system; connecting participants and supporters, it allowed spectators to locate their favourite runners and keep up-to-date with their progress by auto-tracking athletes both throughout the race and via push notifications of their finish times. The interactive map tracking runners’ progress with live updates every 5 kilometres and ensured spectators were able to get the best viewing points during the race and provide the extra support to their friends and family running the event.

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Shankar Narayanan, Country Head, UK & Ireland, TCS, said: “TCS is delighted to have partnered again with the Virgin Money London Marathon as Official Technology Partner, providing the Official race App. Embracing digital technology into our personal and business lives has become second nature. With the marathon being one of the UK’s landmark events we were thrilled to be able to bring a record 360,000 runners and their supporters a useful, interactive resource, and a digital way of becoming fully immersed and get the most from this fantastic day.”

Digital fitness

The TCS annual “Digital Fitness Survey” also revealed how digital technology continues to be key in boosting the health and well-being for the general British public.

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TCS surveyed over 2,000 Brits to examine the impact digital fitness technologies are having on the UK’s health, fitness and work life. The survey found that the British public continues to embrace digital fitness technology, as the nation strives for less stress and greater well-being.

Over half of Brits (58.9%) use apps to track their fitness and share their achievements with their friends and family and approximately the same number (53%) find exercise alleviates stress.

Unsurprisingly, fitness tracker apps ranked as the most popular tech driver for fitness, at 33.7%, used more by women than men (36.2% vs 32.6%). Interestingly, apps are most popular with those who exercise the least out of the respondents (2-3 times per week – 36.5% vs 27.1% for those who exercise every day.

Digital Fitness Survey Infographic
Digital Fitness Survey Infographic

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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