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SMS saves sports supporters a long wait at the finish line

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A ChampionSMS solution has enabled sports supporters to get up-to-date information about the performance of their friends or family members participating in sports events. The service has enabled supporters to predict the arrival of participants at the finish line, saving them what is often a long wait for participates to cross the line.

The solution was provided by BulkSMS.com for ChampionChip, a leading results service company for sports events including the Two Oceans Marathon and Comrades Marathon.  
ChampionChip times the performance of participants in a race using an electronic chip which is attached to the participant. As participants pass certain points during the race, their time is recorded. This data is accessed using SMS and allows supporters to identify when a sportsperson passed points, and therefore predict their finishing time.
According to Colin Hegter, MD of ChampionChip, about 10 000 to 15 000 people used the service during the 2007 Two Oceans Marathon. Given that approximately 18 000 people enter the event, the uptake of the service indicates that runners and their supporters found that ChampionSMS added significant value to their event experience.
“We identified the need to provide this kind of service both for the participants and their supporters,” says Hegter. “We had previously provided an SMS service for participants to gain immediate and efficient access to their race results, however, we needed to find a way to make it work financially from our perspective too.”
BulkSMS.com, a leading provider of bulk SMS and premium rated messaging solutions, approached ChampionChip with a solution.
Hegter adds: “ChampionSMS has made financial sense for the sportspersons and their supporter as well as for ChampionChip.”
ChampionChip and BulkSMS.com have joined forces to promote the service and launched a competition for users to win a trip to the Tour de France 2008.
Approximately 100 000 people participate in over 900 road-running events in South Africa, while 60 000 cyclists and thousands of tri-athletes and swimmers participate in other sports events. The one factor that is common to every participant is that they want their time to be taken accurately and to know what their race time is.
ChampionChip use an electronic chip attached to a participant. As they pass certain points during the race, including the finishing line, their time is recorded.  As most people participating in these events have access to cell phones, it made sense to use cellular technology to enable them to gain access to their results.
However, sending bulk SMS messages to every race participant could become a costly exercise for ChampionChip, so BulkSMS.com suggested a premium rate SMS service.
To use the ChampionSMS service a participant sends a SMS with their ChampionChip race code to the 35015 shortcode at a cost of R3.00 per SMS. The system then replies to the user with their race results at no additional cost to ChampionChip or the participant.
ChampionChip quickly saw the opportunity to provide this information to race supporters too. Using the same shortcode number and a participant’s race code, supporters can request SMS updates to track the performance of their friends or family during the race.
According to Hegter, the solution has focused on adding value to the race experience for participants and supporters and covering the administrative costs of providing the service by ChampionChip. “We wanted a solution that provided a service to the participants, but that we could also justify financially,” he says.
Hegter adds that it was important that BulkSMS.com could provide the service for all participants regardless of which cellular network they used.  “Using BulkSMS means that we only have to work with one messaging service provider rather than striking deals with all the networks individually,” says Hegter. “This has reduced the administration requirements of managing the service.”