London Marathon app
Tracking race-running friends at the London Marathon was a logistical nightmare until smartphone apps came along.
In olden times, you'd need to plot pace estimates against a course map to find out when and where you should stand to offer your 'moral support' (which was, by pure coincidence, right near a great pub beer garden).
Last year the race, which starts at Blackheath this Sunday 24 April, introduced its first official app to let supporters watch any runner’s progress live on its interactive course map.
The updated app is still iOS-only for the London Marathon 2016, but there are ways to track runners with an Android phone too. Pick your device below, then start prepping that hilarious marathon sign...
On an iPhone
Virgin Money London Marathon app 2016
Virgin Money London Marathon app £free (iOS)
The official app has been given a minor facelift, but works in the same way as last year's version. Add your friend's name or bib number to the 'favourites' section and you'll get their estimated positions on the race map every 5km.
The benefit is that these estimates are based on the official race chips given to each runner, so your friend won't need a battery-sapping app on their phone. But the downside is that these positions are very much estimates, so you'll need to allow some leeway rather than knowing the exact minute you'll need to dash from the pub to the course.
While it isn't the most precise solution, it does have advantages over going the 'live tracking' route...
On an Android phone
Runtastic Pro (£5) or Runkeeper Go $10 (one month)
The official London Marathon app is still iOS-only, but Android users still have a few options for tracking runners along the 26-mile route.
The most clunky but battery-friendly is to go to the official website via your browser, where you'll find a link to the tracking service used by the official app.
For more accurate tracking, though, your runner could use a running app that allows live tracking. Runtastic Pro and Runkeeper Go both offer this, with the latter allowing people without the app to track a friend via a web link (see Runkeeper's instructions here). It also offers one-month gift subscriptions, which could make a nice pre-race present.
The downside of these apps are the toll they take on battery life, and it's possible your friend will have enough trouble keeping up with Wilson Kipsang without carrying a chunky battery case in their pocket. But they are potentially more precise than the official tracking, which only provides updates every 5km.