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Amateur Radio Volunteers Continue New York City Marathon Tradition:

from The ARRL Letter on November 9, 2017
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Amateur Radio Volunteers Continue New York City Marathon Tradition:

More than 175 hams from all directions on the compass converged on New York City this past weekend to support communications for the 2017 New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 5. Tata Consultancy Services is the event's primary sponsor. Along with more than 50,000 runners and an estimated crowd of some 2.5 million spectators, Amateur Radio volunteers were on the scene to assist in numerous communications and other race-related activities.

Ham radio and the Marathon have a relationship dating back to the 1970s, when former ARRL Hudson Division Director and later First Vice President Steve Mendelsohn, W2ML (then WA2DHF, now Silent Key), began organizing a cadre of ham radio volunteers to support race communications. In an era before cell phones and widespread deployment of digital mobile radio, Mendelsohn and his volunteers provided a major share of the communications, logistical, and organizational support for the growing event. Over the past decade and a half, as the Marathon has become more and more prominent as a major international athletic gathering, dependence on Amateur Radio has been partially supplanted by non-volunteer, paid resources.

Hams still staff all 26 mile stations along the route, along with medical facilities set up near most mile stations, as well as a large communications center in Central Park. Amateur Radio operators act as course marshals, closely observing the participants, calling in for medical assistance, relaying logistical requirements, and, in general, lending a hand as needed.

When a runner drops out of the race, even for a short period, hams alert medical resources and advise NYPD officers nearby. A downed runner may get a bottle of fluids, a package of high-sugar candy, and the jacket of a ham volunteer draped over his or her shoulders to protect from a chilly shock.

The task of marshaling all the ham radio resources for the New York City Marathon falls to Deb Kerr, KC2GPV, who succeeded Mendelsohn as Amateur Radio Communications Director for the NYC Marathon. This past weekend, she was on her game. -- Thanks to Tom Gallagher, NY2RF.


The ARRL Letter

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