Safaricom Helping Athletes Break 2 Hour Marathon Mark

Safaricom and Vodafone Group are working to deliver industry-leading Internet of Things (IoT) technology to Kenyan athletes in a bid to help them break the two-hour marathon mark.

The current marathon World Record is 2:02:57 set by Kenyan athlete Dennis Kimetto on September 28, 2014, at the Berlin Marathon. Safaricom and Vodafone are working with a group of specialist scientists, the world’s best marathon runners, and other industry partners in a project called SUB2 ( to help break that record.

SUB2 is led by Yannis Pitsiladis, who is a Professor of Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Brighton and is a member of the International Olympic Committee’s Medical and Scientific Commission.

“At Safaricom, we continue to seek and explore new innovations around the latest technologies, with the goal of creating new opportunities for Kenyans. This application of IoT in athlete training in Iten and Eldoret will not only help Kenyan athletes improve their performance, it will also further refine and fine tune our IoT solution in readiness for nationwide deployment,” said Thibaud Rerolle, Director – Technology, Safaricom.

IoT technologies bring Internet-connected network intelligence to a wide range of devices at work, home and on the move.

Vodafone has built a SUB2 smart watch app to provide telemetry with enhanced location tracking using mobile networks. Ethiopian elite marathon runner, Kenenisa Bekele, used the app as his digital pacemaker in the 2017 Berlin marathon.

Working with partners, Vodafone engineers have now also enabled a series of body sensors to communicate with the SUB2 app over a mobile network. The sensors track contact time, cadence and strike angle that will help coaching teams to determine an athlete’s running mechanics and get advice on injury avoidance and performance enhancement. The sensors also allow for 3D visualization where running movements can be reconstructed in 3D, and skin and land surface temperature tracking to inform athletes if they are hotter than expected during a run.

The technology, which was demonstrated at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, is currently in use at the Iten and Eldoret training grounds in Kenya. The technology has been deployed on a two kilometre stretch within the hilly Iten area, and a 16 kilometre stretch on the flat South Moiben route in Eldoret.

The sensors give coaches live access to real-time data as athletes train, helping them understand the root causes of injuries or performance degradation, and how these can be avoided.

More than 100,000 attendees at Mobile World Congress had the opportunity to experience a demonstration of the technology relayed live over Safaricom’s 4G+ network from Iten and Eldoret.