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Live tracking keeps spectators in the loop

July 24, 2017
By JUSTIN A. LEVINE - Sports Writer (jlevine@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - As competitors in the Ironman triathlon were working themselves to the bone, family, friends and spectators alike were glued to their smartphones. But this wasn't the casual, "Oh, I'll check Facebook real quick" kind of phone checking, they were likely on the Ironman app or website to see where their competitors were in the race.

Ironman offers real-time updates of the race and accurate location information for each racer. Spectators can follow their friends or family and know when they are about to come around a bend in the road or see how many miles are left in their race.

But Ironman also offers live updates of the top racers; this year, of the men's professionals. And if you were following along on the live blog - whether from the sidelines of the race or the comfort of your couch - you were likely to see up close and personal photos and videos of the top racers.

Article Photos

Dan Forgett uploads photos from his phone for the Ironman live blog during Sunday’s race in Lake Placid. Forgett was tasked with following the leaders to provide live photos, video and status updates.
(News photo — Justin A. Levine)

These photos and videos don't just appear out of thin air. Someone has to be at the swim and along the bike route and marathon course to provide those videos and images. And one such person is Dan Forgett.

Forgett is from Albany, and admits that he has never done an Ironman race. He regularly competes in shorter triathlons. Forgett also plans to compete in the upcoming 70.3 Ironman in Lake Placid in September.

And while Forgett is obviously no slouch in the athletic department, most of his day Sunday was spent riding on the back of a motorcycle or on his bike.

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"I'm a live spotter," Forgett said at the start line of the swim on Sunday morning. "My job is to follow around the pro athletes, get some photos, video clips (and) status updates."

Forgett was following racers like Andy Potts, who finished second overall behind Brent McMahon, and other professional triathlon racers to get content for the Ironman blog.

"(I'm going to) try to get some pictures of them coming around on their second lap (of the swim)," Forgett said. "Then heading out on a moto(rcycle) as they bike. Probably speed ahead a couple of times and try to get some photos of them.

"Then I'll follow the leaders on my pedal bike while they're running. That way I can actually keep pace with them," he laughed.

Forgett is a volunteer, just one of hundreds of others who peel off wetsuits, spray on sunscreen, keep spectators off the course and do sundry other duties as the race wears on. But in terms of volunteer opportunities, Forgett's job Sunday was pretty much the cream of the crop.

"I have some friends that came up here to do it (the race), and I figured why not volunteer for something," he said. "I didn't expect to have a volunteer job that was all day, but it's looking like it's all day. But I'm fine with that. (My friends) aren't quite as fast so I'll be able to see them come through."

Forgett said he basically fell into the role after another member of local triathlon club couldn't make it this weekend.

"There was a guy in my tri club who's done this - he was only the bike spotter - but I think he had a wedding this weekend so he offered it up to some people in the group," Forgett said. "But this year I guess they expanded it so I'll be doing the whole thing instead of just the bike.

"I thought I was just going and riding with Andy Potts on the bike for two hours, but now it's the whole day."

Forgett said he's been to the Lake Placid area many times and has volunteered for the Ironman for the past few years. He also noted that he has never done anything like this particular job in the past.

"I took some photography classes in college, so I consider myself an amateur photographer, but all they want us to use is our cell phone," Forgett said. "We're using Whatsapp to transfer the photos, so I'm taking them right in Whatsapp and he uploads them to the website so it's as live as possible."

Despite his lack of videography and photography experience, Forgett said this particular job was pretty great.

"I get full access to the pros, full access to the transitions, so it'll be interesting," he said. "So I'll be able to mosey over there. It'll be interesting to see how they do it."

While he got to spend the entire day with the front-runners, Forgett said it was unlikely to inspire him to sign up for a full Ironman.

"No," he laughed. "I don't think I have a full Ironman in me. I signed up for the half (Ironman) in the fall, but I don't think I'll go any farther than that. I know how much a marathon hurts, I've done six of them. So I don't want to do that after 12 hours."

 
 

 

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