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Satellite Communications Technology

Marathon Des Sables 2019 athletes to use Globalstar’s SPOT Gen3 for satellite tracking and safety

(21 March 2019 - Globalstar) Globalstar Europe Satellite Services today announced that SPOT Gen3 will track and safeguard over 850 athletes competing in the Marathon Des Sables 2019 (MDS), the world’s most extreme running race across the Sahara Desert in Morocco.

Globalstar has been named Official Tracking Partner for this year’s event, which takes place from 5-15 April 2019.

Each MDS participant will have the small, rugged SPOT Gen3 mounted on their backpack, transmitting their GPS location every few minutes so that race organisers, emergency support teams, sponsors, family and friends can precisely track each runner’s location online.

This is accomplished thanks to Globalstar’s next generation fleet of satellites traversing the planet in Low Earth Orbit, enabling reliable, ubiquitous coverage even when alternative communications infrastructure is non-existent.

SPOT Gen3 was first used by MDS in 2015. That year, thanks to SPOT’s GPS data transmission and emergency notification capabilities, during the course of the event the MDS support team was able to precisely locate 18 competitors in distress and quickly dispatch rescue teams to each. In fact, in the last three races supported by SPOT, no fewer than 45 competitors have been rescued within minutes thanks to SPOT Gen3.

MDS race marshals also carry SPOT Gen3s and they will be deployed in security and medical vehicles and helicopters in 2019. In the 2015 race, the use of SPOT Gen3 even resulted in one rescue with the help of a camel.

If an incident occurs, such as injury, a runner simply presses SPOT’s one-touch SOS button and their location data is transmitted by satellite from the SPOT device to race officials, making it easy to find the closest rescue team and to promptly dispatch support.

One British runner, Sabrina Pace-Humphreys, set the challenge herself to complete MDS for her 40th birthday. She comments: “I had never dared to run in such an inhospitable environment, yet alone for days on end. The SPOT Gen3 reassured me that even when I was all alone in the desert, help was never far away. My family and friends at home told me they felt like they were on the journey with me as they watched my progress using SPOT’s tracking data.”

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Sabrina Pace-Humphreys wearing a SPOT Gen3 on her right shoulder (courtesy: Globalstar)

Customised tracking software including an intuitive user interface is provided by tracking specialist GlobalPlus, a Globalstar Value Added Reseller based in Spain. The GlobalPlus platform uses geo-fencing to alert race HQ if an athlete wanders off course, raising an instantaneous alarm. When this happens, the rescue and medical team will check the person’s health and, if they are OK, advise them as to how to get back on course.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Globalstar and SPOT again this year,” explains Patrick Bauer, CEO of the Marathon Des Sables. “The SPOT system has amply proven its value over the years, both for its ability to provide reliable tracking of all MDS participants, and to help ensure we can rapidly get support to competitors when they need it most.”

“Participants in Marathon Des Sables push themselves to their very limits, physically, mentally and emotionally,” said Gavan Murphy, Director of Marketing, EMEA, Globalstar. “We are extremely glad that SPOT Gen3 and the Globalstar satellite constellation will deliver safety and peace of mind to this extraordinary group of people and to the dedicated MDS team supporting them.”

About 2019 Marathon Des Sables

MDS 2019 is a gruelling multi-stage adventure through a highly challenging landscape in one of the world’s most inhospitable climates - the Sahara Desert. Runners take on the challenge of a lifetime, facing the most extreme terrain as they race across the sands of Morocco in temperatures as high as 50 degrees Celcius (100 degrees Fahrenheit). The rules of MDS require participants to be self-sufficient, carrying everything they need to survive – including all equipment and food – on their backs. Only water and tents are provided. Other safety measures include RFID tagging and flares.

About SPOT Gen3

SPOT Gen3 is a rugged, pocket-sized, low-priced personal GPS messenger that helps users stay connected via satellite even where there is poor or no GSM signal. If a runner gets into trouble, such as sustaining an injury, with the single press of a button, emergency services are alerted, their GPS coordinates are transmitted to the support crew, and help is immediately dispatched. SPOT Gen3 provides off-the-grid messaging, emergency alerts, super long battery life, and extreme GPS tracking with intervals as frequent as every 2 1/2 minutes. SPOT devices have been used in over 6,300 rescues worldwide.

About SPOT

SPOT LLC, a subsidiary of Globalstar, Inc., provides affordable satellite communication and tracking devices for recreational use. SPOT Global Phone uses the Globalstar network to transmit two-way voice and data communications. SPOT messaging devices use both the GPS satellite network and the Globalstar network to transmit text messages and GPS coordinates. Since 2007, SPOT has provided peace of mind by allowing customers to remain in contact completely independent of cellular coverage, having initiated over 6,300 rescue callouts worldwide.