Led by Yannis Pitsiladis, a Professor of Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Brighton and a member of the International Olympic Committee’s Medical and Scientific Commission, SUB2 aims to demonstrate how science and technology can fairly help athletes improve their performance.
SUB2 is an Internet of Things (IoT) technology in pilot by Safaricom and the Vodafone Group to Kenyan athletes in a bid to help them break the two-hour marathon mark.
Yannis and his team of scientists are using Data Management and Bioinformatics to collect as enough data on various aspects on winners among others, monitoring athletes nutrition for the different periods of training and competition.
Using Bioenergetics, SUB2 will explore the relationship between maximal aerobic capacity and running economy and the influence of body size, anthropometry and running form on thermoregulation, running economy and fuel use while the biomechanics and modeling will help the team monitor gait mechanics and ground reaction forces in order to maximize racing speeds.
The team will also use big data to develop intelligent training methods utilising genetic technologies and linking these technologies to the very latest training aids as well as study individual and teams preparation and strategy.
SUB2 will also look at sports medicine and physiotherapy requirements and promote high performance marathon running without doping. The team will then will use of satellite and ground data, thermal conditions of past marathon routes to analyze the best thermal conditions for racing. The learnings will be used to create new products and be used at the Running Academy towards the future development of distance running in the country.
The current marathon World Record is 2:02:57 and was set by leading Kenyan athlete Dennis Kimetto on September 28, 2014, at the Berlin Marathon. Safaricom, Vodafone and Pitsiladis are working with a group of specialist scientists, the world’s best marathon runners, and other industry partners to help break that record.
“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.
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.
The technology, which was demonstrated at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain earlier this month, 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.
In May 2017, Safaricom announced a Kshs. 200 million investment in the Technology Lab to test a number of emerging technologies including IoT. Since then, a number of IoT applications have commenced in the lab and on the network, with the company gearing for nationwide IoT deployment in coming months.