I call it Sportstats Stalking. Sportstats is the largest timing company in Canada, so if someone runs a ChampionChip timed race the results are likely to be found on sportstats almost immediately. A sportstat stalker often knows the official results of a race before the runner is home and showered. In some races the split times are posted with such frequency that you can practically stalk track a runner in real time. Without ever speaking to the runner of interest you may know if they went out fast, slowed for hills, slammed into the wall, or finished with a strong kick. Covering all of North America, Athlinks takes things a step further, not only publishing race results but designating running friends and rivals for you to stalk follow. Hilariously, by default, Athlinks decided that husband is my rival because we run in all the same races. According to Athlinks, he’s winning. Game on husband. So not only can you readily stalk people you know, but also strangers who – for reasons of software programming – are your running rivals.
No, there is nothing anonymous about running a race. Correction, you might be able to hide in a small charity race with gun time only results, but those are few and far between these days, such is the demand for precise chip time results. We runners need to know our timing from the millisecond we cross the start mat to the millisecond we cross the finish mat, with no allowance for the lag between the time the gun goes off and the time one officially steps on the course. There is a cost to that precious information – loss of privacy. Back in my university days professors would post grades (on their office door nonetheless, as this was back in the dark ages before courses had websites) by student number, ostensibly so that personal results were known only to the individual. Of course there was always that guy who had been around for 10 years with the obviously low student number and the part-time student with a completely wonky student number, but for the most part this system worked reasonably well. In running races there are few secrets. No posting of results by bib number. How well you did (or didn’t do) is broadcasted to the world the moment you cross that finish line. Except when you are trying to stalk your own husband, in which case there is an inexplicable four hour delay before the results of his marathon are posted online and he doesn’t answer any of your numerous text messages and you don’t know if he ran the race of his life or is clutching his hamstring on the side of road beside the metaphorical wall. Hypothetically speaking.
You can run, but you can’t hide.
Title Reference: Rockwell – Somebody’s Watching Me. From the album Somebody’s Watching Me. 1984.