Live insights at the Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon is one of the most prestigious and innovative marathons in the world. Begun in 1897, the event was inspired by the success of the first marathon competition in the 1896 Summer Olympics. The Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon and ranks as one of the world’s best-known road racing events. It is one of six World Marathon Majors. Its course runs from Hopkinton to Boston.

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The 2018 edition: one to remember

The 122nd edition of the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 16th was one to remember not only because of the horizontal rain and freezing temperatures on Marathon Monday but also because of the use of technology to bring the event experience to the next level.

A strong mix of hardware and software solutions180316_New-Boston-Marathon-app

This year the Boston Marathon trusted MYLAPS technology. All runners wore bibs with the new MYLAPS ThinTag, a lightweight RFID solution detected by detection mats on the course. New this year was the use of the MYLAPS EventApp. The app (iOS and Android) allows users to follow and track runners throughout the day. Users were notified about the progress of their favorite runners as well as estimated finish and split times.

The app calculated the runner’s pace, showed the runner’s progress along the course, and provided comprehensive race results. The real-time leaderboards and information on past marathon achievements were especially interesting for followers of the elite athletes.


Interesting Facts:

✔ The EventApp was the most popular app in stores, the category of sports
✔ 177,322 downloads of the app
✔ 10,4 million in-app screen views on race day
✔ 28:32 average session duration in minutes
✔ 2.2 million push messages have been sent with live updates from the runners' progress
✔ 27,042 starters could be followed live during this iconic event
✔ 9,500 volunteers at the race


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MYLAPS BibTag: The Beating Heart of the System

All technical innovations start with accurate and reliable live data. Therefore the Boston Marathon relies on MYLAPS technology. 

At this year's race, the following equipment was used.

BibTag Mats

Serve as the system's antennas and detect the signals sent out by the tags.

BibTag Decoders

Attached to the mats and decoder the BibTag signals into the athlete's IDs and their measured times.


The new standard in mass event timing. It has a thickness of less than 2mm, which saves a lot on shipping and storage. The spacer is designed to only expand in contact with liquid. IAAF approved.

All the timing data from start to finish and all 12 split points were processed to the app.



Interview with T.K. Skenderian: More engagement for our spectators

During the event, we were able to have a small interview with T.K. Skenderian who is the communications director at The Boston Marathon Athletic Association. We talked about the EventApp and how the needs of the runners and spectators change with new improvements in technology. 

How have the demands and expectations from spectators changed over the last five years?

I think our spectators crave a more engaged experience, especially on their mobile devices. I think this is true at any sporting event, yes, but at a point-to-point road race, there may only be one chance for you to see your favorite athlete. If our app can not only add peace of mind to that process but also engage our spectators in other ways while they wait, we’ve elevated our brand and their experience. I think we did that this year.

How do new technologies support strategic goals?

One addition this year at the Boston Marathon was three new timing mats along the course. This addition allowed for our mobile app tracking to be more accurate in the later phases of the race, and to send more push notifications to followers as athletes navigated the final eight miles. This increased data made for a more connected spectator experience. Back when we were reviewing proposals for the relaunch of our mobile app, the most important aspect of the new B.A.A. app was going to be runner tracking on race day. MYLAPS won our business because they proved they could deliver that, and we were thrilled to see how it worked on the day of the Boston Marathon. It validated our selection.


Want to learn more about timing systems for running events? Visit the running page on our website or contact our team.

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