Alpha gives head start to organizers of the LA Marathon; online/offline solution becomes a standard for race management

Managing major endurance sports events has always been a painstaking process, requiring lots of hard work and preparation. In some ways it can be as difficult as being a participant in the actual event.  All that has changed, thanks to Race Administration System (RAS), a web based database application built in Alpha Five v11.  RAS has quickly taken the lead in managing major race events: On March 19th,  it delivered results for the 20,000 runners in the LA Marathon, while in May, the application will help manage entrants and deliver race results to the 40,000 runners participating in the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia. David Simms of Simmco Data Systems is the man behind RAS. Each year, his company provides timing and race results for 14 of its own events, as well as supporting many other timers and race events. A long-time user of  Alpha Five to manage races, two years ago, he engaged Jeff Benson of HighBrookCREATE to consolidate all those races into a single web based database application—RAS—with a web-enabled user and administrator interface.

RAS supports "some of the largest endurance sports events in the world," thanks to Alpha Five v11's web based database development capabilities

Built in Alpha Five Version 11, RAS supports report delivery to the desktop and mobile devices. The application plays a critical role in all phases of a race. For entrant registration, RAS enables data entry personnel to pull in prior year's registrant data and automates the sending of registration confirmation notices. It is also used to generate demographic profiles of race participants, and provides race administrators with access to prior year results. RAS also tracks the type of race—marathon, half marathon, 10Mile, 8K, 5K, etc.—as well as participant categories—runner, wheelchair or handcycle. Some races report results by age and sex and RAS dynamically makes available the relevant reports and results for each race. Awards are given in some races in a myriad of categories. The video below shows some of the award results for one race displayed on an iPad. This particular race has awards in over 100 categories and the results for each category are dynamically displayed using a single grid component: With its core administration menu and Alpha’s built-in security framework, RAS restricts access to individual races, and menu items to the appropriate authorized users. Today, the main table in RAS holds a quarter million records with annual growth projected to be around 200,000 records. David Simms tells us that Alpha Five and RAS have simplified the entire race management process and quickly won over his clients. He makes it clear that with the help of Alpha Software and Jeff Benson, he got exactly what he needed in RAS: "Alpha Five v11 has given me the flexibility to time and support some of the largest endurance sports events in the world. RAS has become a standard for my events and others that I support. They (race organizers) all love the new access they have to their data. It is both an online and offline management system and allows for easy synchronization once I regain an internet connection. In my line of work you need both, because you can be in locations where you don’t have good internet service. RAS gives me and my clients all the flexibility we need. I will not only have all of my clients moved over to RAS by the end of the year, but most of their data from the past 10 years!"

The mobile future of RAS supported by the next version of Alpha

This year, RAS will be utilizing the next version of Alpha to enhance its performance in the following three major areas:
  • Continuing the mobile application development and expansion effort, RAS will migrate to the next major version of Alpha to take advantage of its mobile delivery features—providing race results across all devices
  • RAS’s back-end will be changed from the current dbf structure to a SQL Server platform.
  • RAS will talk directly to the race timing devices to allow real-time data flow through an external API to the RAS repository.
Using CSS3 to get precise control over layouts in the upcoming version of Alpha Five
Get the most out of Alpha's software development tools with training from Liberty Manuals

About Author

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Chris Conroy

Chris Conroy runs digital programs for Alpha Software.


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