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Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, December 7, 2000

H A W A I I _R U N N I N G

chipping into the
computer age

Microchips in the runners'
shoes will give fans the chance
to track the progress of
competitors in the race

By Pat Bigold

Microchips in runners' shoe laces will offer data never before available in Sunday's 28th Honolulu Marathon.

Honolulu Marathon The chips will also make it possible to follow the race from anywhere in the world via a home computer.

Island Infotech, which created and operates the Honolulu Marathon website (, will allow marathon fans to check on the progress of any member of the field at four different checkpoints: 10 kilometers, half marathon (20 kilometers), 30 kilometers and the finish.

Holly Huber, co-owner and programmer for Island Infotech, said computer users can access information during the race by typing in the name of the runner, his or her bib number, country, city or state.

For example, if a user types in only Kenya, he will get the progress of all Kenyan entries.

Huber said there will also be streaming video of the finish line available on the website this year for the entire race.

She said that extra servers have been put in place to make sure the website can handle any load on race day.

The website also now features a monthly Fantasy Honolulu Marathon game in which participants can win prizes in a virtual marathon race.

The next one is scheduled for Jan. 28.

Burns Computer Services, which has handled results for Honolulu and other major races throughout the world for the past decade, will operate the ChampionChip Timing System.

Each runner is being assigned a commemorative timing chip to lace into his or her shoes.

The chip is a small plastic disk containing a miniature transponder.

When runners come in contact with mats placed at the start and the aforementioned checkpoints, their unique ID codes will be transmitted to tiny antennas in the thin tartan mats and forwarded to race computers.

The chip will give the marathon's organizers more capabilities to produce specific data.

Burns Computer Serrvices has always been able to produce an accurate count of Honolulu Marathon finishers to rank the race among the world's largest marathons.

But there has never been a way to determine how many of those who signed up for the race actually started the race.

On Sunday, as soon as the field crosses the start on Ala Moana Boulevard at 5 a.m., race officials will know because each foot-borne chip will be scanned.

Someone at the back of the starting field will not be penalized for how much time it took to cross the starting line at Queen Street and Ala Moana. Only actual course time will be recorded.

The chip will also be a safeguard against cheaters who might try to crash the course and steal age group awards.

When runners pick up their race packets in the basement of the Outrigger Reef Hotel, they can immediately check their microchips at a scanner set up there.

A screen will display the name and race number of the user. If it reads incorrectly, the runner may exchange the chip for a functional one.

The ChampionChip is used at major international races like the Boston Marathon, Los Angeles Marathon, Chicago Marathon, and Berlin Marathon.

Makers of the chip say that 2,500 events had planned to use it in 2000.

The chip contains the same technology used for security locks in cars and admission control in buildings.

Beurskens honored: Carla Beurskens of Holland, who won the Honolulu Marathon eight times and owns the four fastest women's times on the course, will be inducted into the race's hall of fame tonight at the marathon banquet at Oahu Country Club.

Beurskens, now 48, is back in Hawaii for the first time in several years and will run Sunday. Her last win was in 1994.

Late Entries: The late entry fee for all runners is $110. Entries will be accepted from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Outrigger Reef on the Beach Hotel through Saturday.

By the numbers: The latest entry figures show that 24,815 have registered. The Japanese entries are at 13,336 with Hawaii participants at 6,406, mainland at 4,112 and other foreign entries at 961.

There are currently 14,175 men and 10,640 women registered. The number of first-time marathoners is 11,995.

Honolulu Marathon

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