Cape Town’s Two Oceans Marathon is Africa’s biggest running event by economic impact and, after another successful event this past weekend, the 56km race has cemented its reputation as one of the globe’s safest.

Widely acknowledged as the world’s most beautiful road race, the Two Oceans Marathon is now also the most technologically advanced after a blanket Long Range Wide Area Network (LoRaWAN) ensured ambulance crews, security, and logistics teams were tracked minute-by-minute as they moved along the challenging route.

This ensured emergency responders were never more than five minutes away from any race participant as they navigated the marathon and half marathon routes.

Full visibility of all teams was made possible by battery-powered devices optimised to send location updates over the LoRaWAN. This state-of-the-art radio technology that wirelessly connects battery-operated “things” to the Internet ensured the rapid and accurate dispatch of the relevant personnel to any participants requiring assistance.

With the Cape’s notoriously fickle weather always a concern, the LoRaWAN supplied by local firm LNX Solutions further enabled realtime automated weather stations to feed realtime meteorological data back to the control room at the Tygerberg Disaster Management Centre. Road closure information was also required in realtime by traffic, law enforcement, safety officers, and the event organisers.

“To manage an event like the Two Oceans Marathon at scale you need to know where your assets are,” says Matt Feinstein, CEO of LNX Solutions. “The radios, trackers, and weather stations that operate on the LNX-supplied LoRaWAN provide peace of mind to participants, organisers and spectators. Everyone can focus on the race knowing that the appropriate data is available to handle anything from medical emergencies to crowd control issues.”

Feinstein’s team built their own LoRaWAN after initially trialling GSM mobile-based technologies.

“Unfortunately, cellular networks are prone to congestion and GSM – as every Capetonian has experienced – does not perform well around the curves and bends of the Cape’s landmark mountain roads like Chapman’s Peak Drive and Constantia Nek, both key to the Two Oceans awe-inspiring route,” says Feinstein.

An IoT-based solution was clearly the way to go. In addition, and compared to WiFi, LoRaWAN offers much better range and a higher data transfer rate. Another plus is that only unique device identities – not SIM cards – are required to connect IoT devices to LoRaWAN infrastructure.

Generally, LoRaWAN technology is well-suited to sporting events due to low-power, high-range communication capabilities. LNX Technologies has been supplying large scale tracking solutions for prestigious sporting events across South Africa such as the Cape Town Cycle Tour, the RMB Ultra Trail and the Old Mutual Double Century.

By deploying LoRaWAN networks during these events, LNX Solutions can provide reliable and consistent coverage during the entirety of the event in challenging environments where GSM technologies do not perform well.