Men’s Health Urbanathlon (Chicago): Using Glympse to get your family in the race

After the start of the 2011 Urbanathlon in Chicago I could have hopped a plane from O’Hare to home in Saint Paul, flew back to O’Hare, mussed my clothes and showed up at the finish line 1:30 later and my family would have been none the wiser.

They made a savvy move to catch me mid-race on Balboa Drive and then again at the finish, but everything else was a wormhole, and in total they were engaged with my run for a whopping 30 seconds over the 1:30 haul. That’s largely the nature of the race beast, but in 2012 we can do better, even if just superficially.

I mentioned how in 2011 Men’s Health let people sign up for text alerts so that others got notified when you crossed a certain check point. That’s okay, and we’ll do this if available, but there are only about four check points on the course, so big-picture it gives you just a loose reference point of your progress and where you are on the course.

That’s where Glympse comes in.

Glympse is a free app for smartphones and tablets that shares your location in real-time (overlaid on a Google map). A nice wrinkle, the person viewing your Glympse doesn’t need the app (they can be on mobile, tablet or computer); when you send it out (via email, SMS, Facebook or Twitter) they just click the link and watch your location arrow move across the map (a lot like any GPS navigation tool you might use/see). When you send out a Glympse you indicate how long you want it to be ‘open’ (so they won’t track you indefinitely, or on their terms). Plus you can send it to multiple contacts at once. You can even set up a group Glympse, which could be fun among friends competing in the Urbanathlon.

Just an example I found on Google (my Evo screenshots acting wonky). Add your contact, set the duration, include a message if you want, then send. The map can zoom in and out, and can show satellite view, too.

Today I use the app if I’m running late from work (my commute is long) and it gives my wife an idea of where I am on the interstate parking lot and when I’ll be home (and how fast I’m traveling). I also set it up on my Sunday long runs so that my kids can check in over waffles and ponder things like, “why is dad up by the State Fairgrounds?” or “uh oh, he’s almost home and he’s gonna be sweaty and stinky.”

When I have Glympse, RunKeeper and Pandora churning simultaneously on Sundays it’s a major drain on my Evo’s battery, but during the Urbanathlon I’ll have just Glympse and RunKeeper going (I know RunKeeper has a similar GPS tracking/sharing feature, but only for Elite subscribers).

I have no affiliation with Glympse, and certainly no motive other than to help keep your family or friends engaged in your Urbanathlon experience.

For friends or family out of town I’m sure they can compare your Glympse against the Urbanathlon course map to see in real-time where you are, when you’re hitting an obstacle, and most important, if you make it out of Soldier Field.

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