Satnews Daily
February 26th, 2015

Globalstar's SPOT Gen3's Critical Role...1,450 Runners Outfitted w/SPOT In "The Toughest Foot Race On Earth"

[SatNews]  "Most of us can’t even begin to imagine the physical, intellectual and emotional hurdles the runners in MDS will face."

Globalstar Europe Satellite Services Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Globalstar Inc. (NYSE MKT: GSAT) aannounces that its SPOT Gen3 safety device has been selected to track and protect all participants in MARATHON DES SABLES 2015 (MDS), the world’s most extreme running race, as well as in the MDS 2016 and 2017 races.

Each MARATHON DES SABLES2015 participant, some 1,450 extreme athletes representing over 70 nations, will carry the latest version of SPOT from Globalstar, the SPOT Gen3.

Now in its 30th edition, MDS is a gruelling multi-stage adventure through a highly challenging landscape in one of the world’s most inhospitable climates—the Sahara desert. Being held April 3-13, MDS 2015 will see the world’s toughest runners take the challenge of a lifetime, facing the most extreme terrain as they race across the sands of Morocco in temperatures as high as 100 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celcius).

Globalstar has secured an agreement with the MDS Organizing Committee that will see all participants in “The Toughest Foot Race on Earth” benefit from SPOT’s tracking and safety capabilities for three years, up to and including the running of MDS 2017.

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. 

With SPOT, MDS race organizers and emergency support services will be able to precisely track each runner’s location, via a user-friendly display of GPS positions in real-time via the DREAMAP platform. If a racer gets into trouble, such as sustaining an injury, with the single press of a button, emergency services will be alerted, his or her GPS coordinates will be transmitted, and help will be rapidly dispatched to the runner’s location.

SPOT Gen3 provides off-the-grid messaging, emergency alerts, extra long battery life, and extreme GPS tracking, with track check points capable of taking place as frequently as every two-and-a-half minutes. The convenient SPOT App web-based interface allows users to easily view their SPOT messages, show their track points and monitor people or assets via a smartphone or tablet.

SPOT devices have been used in over 3,500 rescues worldwide since Globalstar launched the technology in 2007, and they have given peace of mind to many thousands more people.

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 a nightly tent are otherwise provided.

“When we were considering how to provide the best possible support to MDS runners in such an extreme environment as the Sahara, we knew we needed a small device with big capabilities, so we investigated the technology options available,” said Patrick Bauer, CEO of the Marathon Des Sables.

“We required a unit that would reliably help us keep track of every runner wherever they were, that would also be a really user-friendly safety device so runners could summon help fast if they needed to,” he explained. 

“The device we chose had to be tough enough to withstand the extreme heat and conditions of cross-Sahara running, and it also had to be small and light so as not to encumber runners – only SPOT ticked all these boxes,” he concluded. 

Since Patrick Bauer organized the inaugural race in 1986, the MDS has grown in popularity every year. Under the scorching Moroccan sun, life-long friendships are fostered through a shared experience of unforgettable days spent running across saltpans, up desert-mountains, through ruined towns and having to brave the occasional sand storm.

“To be selected to help provide tracking and safety for such a remarkable competition as MARATHON DES SABLES is a true honor,” commented Gavan Murphy, Director of Marketing EMEA, at Globalstar. 

“The MDS is absolutely unique, and its participants embody the very highest standards in human endeavor. Most of us can’t even begin to imagine the physical, intellectual and emotional hurdles the runners in MDS will face. We’re tremendously proud that the MDS committee has decided to entrust SPOT to support and protect these amazing people in 2015 and beyond,” he added.

With hundreds of thousands of SPOT units in service around the world, SPOT delivers affordable and reliable connectivity and real-time GPS tracking, providing reassurance when there is unreliable or no mobile coverage. In Europe, the SPOT customer base increased by over 7,000 in 2014, a record number of activations in any single year.