TCS New York City Marathon app is helping everyone get involved in this year’s 50th run

About 52,000 runners run in a past TCS New York City Marathon (Photo by Todd Maisel)

The new version of the TCS New York City Marathon app enables participation for both in-person and virtual runners and helps supporters and spectators share in the marathon experience. 

The official 2021 TCS New York City Marathon app launched on Oct. 22. by Tata Consultancy Services, a leading global IT services, consulting and business solutions organization and title sponsor of the TCS New York City Marathon and New York Road Runners, the world’s premier community running organization.   

“Our goal at TCS is to use technology to enhance the race experience for fans, spectators and runners everywhere, so it’s really important to us for the virtual runners if they can’t come to New York, we wanted to bring New York to them,” said Haley Price, head of North America sports sponsorships for Tata Consultancy Services.

This year’s marathon marks the 50th run since the TCS New York City Marathon began in 1970. The race will take place on November 7. Runners can participate in the virtual marathon from October 23 through November 7.

The app allows fans to track both runners on the NYC racecourse as well as those who are competing virtually. 

“It’s a hybrid app that highlights both virtual and in-person runners,” Price said. “So for fans around the world you can track your runners both in-person and virtually on the same exact map. This has never been done before and we’re really excited to have this experience for everyone.”  

The TCS New York City Marathon app helps virtual and in-person runners enjoy their race day. Photo courtesy of TCS

The marathon course map will show virtual runners in red and in-person runners in blue. Elapsed time and place is available for all runners at every 5K mark of their respective races. 

To create the most accurate opportunities for spectators to cheer on in-person runners, the app factors in runner’s performance on training runs and past marathons. The app also estimates runner finishing time.

A new Marathon City: 3D Map feature within the app uses augmented reality technology, allowing runners and fans to experience the racecourse in new ways. 

The 3D map includes points of interest along and around the racecourse, race day starting times for various groups, elevation changes along the course and an interactive map showing the Start Village in Staten Island. The map can help runners plan their race day. 

Virtual runners

Virtual runners can participate from anywhere in the world. They can share their GPS location with two spectators. All other spectators tracking virtual runners will be able to see the runners’ location as it corresponds to the distance they have covered on the TCS New York City Marathon racecourse. So, virtual runners between miles 16 and 18 will appear to be running up First Avenue in the app.

Joan Bauman is planning to run the marathon virtually from a park in Palm Beach, Florida this weekend. Bauman is a fourth grade teacher who has run nearly 30 marathons. She ran the Boston Marathon six times, she has run in Chicago and she ran the New York Marathon in-person two times. 

She even ran one ultra-100-mile-marathon after beating breast cancer as a way to celebrate life and the hard effort and grit it takes to get through things, Bauman said.

“It’s a good challenge,” Bauman said. “It’s definitely different in-person, but it’s still definitely a challenge. It’s definitely pushing your body trying to see if you can do this marathon thing again, so I’m looking forward to it virtual just as much as I would in-person.”

Bauman plans to use the app to keep track of her race time. Normally, she runs in-person marathons in about three hours and 45 minutes, but without the excitement of a real race day and the energy from the crowd, Bauman expects this marathon to take her about 5 hours. 

“It’s just much more introspective, it’s about you and your body,” Bauman said. “You don’t have the crowd watching you, you don’t have the runners around.”

The app features additional enhancements to create an immersive experience for virtual runners.

At several mile markers throughout the virtual marathon, the app will play audio files with words of encouragement from past marathoners and iconic sounds from the in-person race.

“A new feature this year is including an audio experience for virtual runners, so if they’re starting their race in their hometown, they can still hear the cannon boom and the cheering from Staten Island, and when they hit their mile marker eight, wherever they may be, they can hear the sounds of Brooklyn,” Price said.

Bauman plans to use the app to help give her “that starting line feel,” she said.    

All virtual marathon runners will begin the race with the sound of a cannon going off. This is similar to what in-person runners will hear as their waves take off just south of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge on race day.

The app also helps virtual runners prepare for the race. Virtual runners can do an unlimited number of 5K practice runs prior to the marathon to get used to using the app before the big day. On race day, virtual runners can restart or pause an unlimited number of times but have 24 hours to complete the 26.2-mile race.

At the finish line, virtual runners will receive a digital certificate and a selfie filter with an augmented reality medal that can be shared on social media to celebrate their accomplishment.

A virtual runner uses the augmented reality app feature to wear a medal.TCSPhoto courtesy of TCS

What else the app offers runners and fans

The app also includes share tracking which allows users to share a link that invites people to track them during the race. Optimized spectator guides provide a runner’s estimated times of arrival, along with transportation directions and recommended viewing locations along the course to help fans navigate New York City and see runners on the course. 

Cheer cards allow fans to support runners using the app to share messages on social media, and live pro athlete leader board and bios help users track the race day leaders in real time, as well as have access to bios, records and images of professional athletes running the race.

“I think what it (the app) will do is take the race and sports industry to a whole new level we use technology to enhance the experience but also to solve problems and the big problem this year was how to bring that hybrid experience together, marry both virtual and in-person experiences, so we really hope that it will just help to elevate the sports industry all around,” Price said. 

The TCS New York City Marathon App powered by Tata Consultancy Services, can be downloaded through the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.