Safety While Running: Be a RoadID Warrior

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My husband started running several years ago and quickly started accumulating a lot of gear. I balked at some of it (until I took up running two years ago and realized how amazing those $14 socks are!) but some of it was a no-brainer to me. The RoadID bracelet we got for him was one of those no-brainers.

RoadID was started by a father and son after the son, Edward, was nearly hit by a car while training for his first marathon. His father Mike had asked him to carry ID in case something happened, but Ed dismissed the idea, thinking he’d be just fine. As Ed tells it:

Earlier that fall, I began training for my first marathon. My father worried about me logging all those miles and would often tell me to “be safe.” One day, he suggested that I carry an ID so that he could be notified if I had an accident while training. Of course, I dismissed that suggestion. I thought: “What could possibly happen to me while running?”

So, there I was, in a ditch, on the side of the road, having nearly been hit by the aforementioned pick-up truck. From that ditch, my father’s suggestion to carry ID started to make a tremendous amount of sense.

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Safe runners are happy runners!

So my husband has had a RoadID bracelet since his marathon training days, which includes both my phone number and instructions to contact a priest in case of emergency. My running has not taken on that kind of intensity, but I’ve been using my iPhone’s emergency option on the lock screen to keep important contact information available in case I’m hurt in an accident.

But how would anyone know something was wrong if no one found me? RoadID has come up with a new app that answers that question.

The RoadID eCrumb app is a way to allow people to track you as you run and will alert them if you stop moving for more than 5 minutes. It uses the GPS built into your smartphone to drop “crumbs” and create a map of your route as you run, which can be access through a link sent to the contact of your choice.

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RoadID is simple to set up. Each time you set out for a run, you select who will receive eCrumb updates and be notified if you stop moving. You can select a message to send them at the beginning of your workout (which includes messages for bikers), and they will receive a text message at the beginning of your run with a personalized link to view your workout in real time. They can follow that link to see exactly where you are at any time. You can also select a length of time that you’ll be out so that you can keep track of your time. (If you’re not using another tracking app, this is handy. I run RoadID behind my Nike Running app. It eats up my battery, but Nike is where my running log lives.) One of the best things about this service is that the other person doesn’t need to have the app (or even a smartphone) for this to work. All they need is the ability to send or receive text messages.

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This is the message my daughter recevied when I was testing the app.

Once you start running, if the person doesn’t want to look at your progress in real time, they receive no further text messages unless something goes wrong. Most times when I’m out running, I don’t care if my kids know exactly where I’m going. I live in a safe place and have lots of little neighborhoods I can run in, in addition to the parks that are all around the area. So they usually won’t need to do anything with that link. (If I was running a marathon, they’d probably want to know more and maybe find places on the route to cheer me on, though!)

However, in the event something did go wrong, they’ll want to know. When I was testing the app out, I went for a run with my husband and let my daughter know that I would be stopping on purpose to try out the alerts for RoadID. While we were out running, my husband and I decided to stop and look at a car that was for sale along our running route. I stayed relatively still for 4 minutes when this screen came up on my phone:

You have a minute to cancel the alert, so if you've stopped for a smoothie in the middle of your run, do this and don't freak out your spouse!

You have a minute to cancel the alert, so if you’ve stopped for a smoothie in the middle of your run, do this and don’t freak out your spouse!

In case you’re not actually looking at your phone when this happens, the phone begins to beep every other second. This way, if you’ve stopped for a legitimate reason, and not because you’ve been sideswiped by a school bus, you can save your loved ones the stress of thinking you’re dead in a ditch somewhere. If you don’t move in that time or cancel the alert, a text message goes out to whomever got the eCrumb alert at the beginning of your run. Once again, a personalized link is sent out with the following message:

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This is the message my daughter received on her phone.

 

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When she clicked the link, this is the map she saw.

At this point, you can hit that link and be sent to a map with the last known location pinpointed. My daughter simply texted me and said, “Are you okay, Mom?” to be sure that her dad and I weren’t both in a ditch somewhere, and we continued with our run. Once I started running again, the eCrumb kept on tracking my mileage until I shut it down. At the end of my run, I could go online to RoadID and see my entire run, including where the Stationary Alert was sent out.

RoadID Full Map

My entire run was visible on the map. (Parts are blurred from when I erased street names from this screen-cap.)

In addition to sending the eCrumbs, there is also a lock-screen option you can use. The app will set up a picture that can be used as your lock screen that will contain up to three emergency contact numbers and a message for first responders.

Use the emergency screen (which is a screen-cap) to notify first responders to allergies and your need for a priest.

Use the emergency screen (which is a screen-cap) to notify first responders to allergies and your need for a priest.

The RoadID app is available for free in the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store. I highly recommend it as a way to let your loved ones rest easy when you’re out running, walking, or biking. I also recommend the RoadID bracelets and other wearable items. The most important thing is to keep yourself safe when you’re running, but if there’s an accident, the next best thing is to have a way to alert your loved ones and get the ball rolling so you can be treated immediately and your family can get to your side as quickly as possible.

Read more of our Tech Talk columns.

Text and images © 2016 Christine Johnson

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About Author

Christine Johnson has been married to Nathan since 1993 and has two daughters whom she homeschools. They live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia, where she tries to fit in as a transplanted Yank. She blogs at Domestic Vocation about her life as a wife, mother, homeschooler, and Lay Dominican.

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