Finding Sanity in the Madness

Exploring Social Media

Future Experiment with RRR April 23, 2011

Filed under: Random,Sports — karch10k @ 4:07 pm
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Last weekend, I took part in a race I have done for the past 2 years called the River to River Relay (RRR). In this race, a team of 8 runners join up together and run a relay from one side of Illinois (Mississippi River) to the other (Ohio River). This is an 80 mile race, and each runner covers around 10 miles each throughout the day (I covered 10.7 miles). Each runner has 3 seperate legs of the race to run. So Runner #1 will start the race, hand off the baton to the Runner #2 at the exchange zone, Runner #2 runs his leg, hands off to Runner #3, and  so on. While the runners are racing across the state, the guys NOT running at that moment on the team are riding in a van from exchange zone to exchange zone to keep ahead and have the next runner out and ready for when the next guy comes in to hand off. It is a frenzy of flying down country roads, jumping out of the van to cheer on the guy coming in, and to also cheer on the guy who is taking the baton next. Getting back in the van, and heading to the next exchange zone (all while cursing and taunting the current runner when the van passes them back) so we can do it all over again! The process of going from Runner 1-8 happens 3 times, so you race 3 times throughout the day of a distance around 3 miles. This race, for the lack of a better term is EPICLY awesome. There is plenty of downtime between races to recover, eat something and relax while you cheer on your other teammates, which is where I think I will be when I try out my “experiment” next year.

During the race, and especially during down time, people are sitting in vans and many of them are on the phone (texting, etc, etc). I think next year I want to try to advertise a Twitter hashtag to use by runners and officials during the race. This race provides a unique opportunity where people can use something like Twitter during the race to trash talk, give updates on the course, express feelings, and probably just be silly. I can imagine me tweeting about how we are catching the team ahead of us, maybe warning racers behind us of a fallen tree over the road, or even of hostile dogs to watch out for. People could see this, and be ready for it. I think it would be extremely interesting to test something like this out and see how much response I could get from people. The only thing I worry about is cell service. Many times throughout the race, I didn’t have cell service since we were in the middle of nowhere half the time.

To get something like this off the ground, the easiest thing to do would be to push the RRR officials to endorse the hashtag and advertise it. Maybe have it on the registration site or something. Tell the teams at the team meeting the night before the race, maybe. This is something I will have to think more about, but I hope that next year, I can make this happen!

Also, if you are wondering about the picture: Yes, that is an Optimus Prime piñata. We bought it ($20, but SO worth it!) at Wal-Mart and he was our mascot. You would not believe how many comments we had on that thing!

 

Athlinks January 26, 2011

Filed under: Sports — karch10k @ 9:28 pm
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When I was working on the list of social media websites, one of the ones that I stumbledupon (haha, social media pun) was Athlinks. Being an athlete, or at least a former high school and collegiate athlete, I was very intrigued. There have been many websites throughout my running career that offer a community with forums, maybe a training log, or some other sort of comparative aspect to other athletes (best times, training, etc). Athlinks is different however, and despite there being a little bit more to desire, I found this social media to be very unique and very interesting.

Upon creating my account, the site had me “Claim” myself. When I entered my name, a list of people with my name that had race results appeared.  Most of them were MY results, so it made this process easier. I simply clicked a check box next to the races I was in, and it automatically associated those races with my profile. I thought this function was VERY cool.

One aspect we talked about with social media is their ability or sometimes necessity to be user driven. This social media follows this ideology very well. Over the years, I have been in MANY races all over the country. It simply isn’t possible for a single web site or social media to have access to every road race, high school track meet, or collegiate cross country race across the United States. To solve this, Athlinks allows users to submit their own race results. The process was quite simple. I punched in an exact date of the results (which I had already looked up online) and I was able to select a variety of races listed on that date. Since my race did not show up on their list, I would request to add the race by supplying the name, date, result page URL, etc.  This is definitely a very cool way to build the site with information as you have over 100,000 users all putting in races, submitting information, and building the resources.

In the short amount of time I was on the site, I very much enjoyed some of the features. The only think missing was a training log. I think to have a social media revolving around endurance athletes, the site should also provide a space for training logs. The training log is a very important aspect to any endurance athlete. One thing that my teammates and I loved sharing were old logs of workouts we had done in the past.

Athlinks is definitely a place I would recommend some of my friends visit. Being user driven for information and race results, it would be very interesting to see this become the new go-to place for race results. The last one shut down (trackshark.com) sometime I think in 2009 and we have been a bit lost without their up to date results and news.

If you are an endurance athlete and looking for a place to connect with other athletes with similar interests, I would recommend a look at Athlinks!