Marathon Des Sables extends use of GPS satellite tracking devices

Marathon Des Sables extends use of GPS satellite tracking devices

Marathon Des Sables extends use of GPS satellite tracking devices

In some of the toughest sporting events in the world, SPOT Gen3 satellite tracking devices from Globalstar are key to keeping participants safe. 

Over the last three years, some 45 participants in the world-famous endurance race Marathon Des Sables (MDS) have been rescued in the Sahara, thanks to satellite monitoring devices from Globalstar.

It’s hardly surprising that some runners get disoriented or downright exhausted: the full event is the equivalent of six marathons in six days, covering over 250 kilometres of harsh desert terrain, and requires athletes to carry all their essential supplies except for water and a tent. This event, after all, is called ‘the world’s toughest foot race’ for a reason.

Read more: Tour de France to use IoT in digital race for spectators’ attention

On the spot

Now, MDS has announced that not only will it continue to use Globalstar’s SPOT Gen3 GPS satellite tracking devices to track and safeguard runners for a further three years in Morocco, but also on other events that it runs on Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands (a three-day, 120km race) and also in Peru.

At each event, MDS officials will use SPOT to monitor the location of athletes and, in the event of an emergency, coordinate support teams, including security and medical vehicles, helicopters and sometimes even a camel.

“SPOT Gen3 has cemented its position as a critical piece of equipment for extreme races in all corners of the world,” said Gavan Murphy, director of marketing for EMEA at Globalstar. “The affordability of the service and lightweight, robust design of the devices makes it an obvious choice when competitors are battling exhaustion and heat in remote regions with limited communications.”

Read more: Harlequins expands use of wearables to improve player performance

Amazon battles

Meanwhile, the SPOT Gen3 devices will also be used for Raid Amazones, the female-only sister events to MDS, in which 140 teams take part in different sporting trials over six days – including a foot race, mountain biking, canoeing, orienteering and archery. Two such events are planned in Cambodia.

The decision by the Raid organisers to introduce the rugged and lightweight Spot satellite trackers will ensure all athletes can stay connected with officials during the event, and, should emergency help be needed, officials will be alerted instantly.

Nicole Ribera of Raid Amazones said the devices were chosen on the basis of their reputation for reliability and reach. “The Amazones taking part in Raids will benefit from SPOT’s accurate tracking and SOS function, while their families and friends around the world can keep up with their progress in real time, online – despite being thousands of miles away.”


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