Amateur Radio and Running

December17/ 2015

Over the last year I’ve developed an interest in Amateur Radio and thought I would write a short post about how this fits in with running…..

My interest really started when I was training for the Fan Dance Race last year. The race organisers ask if everyone taking part would buy and carry a radio with them. It isn’t compulsory but they explain the reasons why it could be useful…. I’m sure most of us have been out running and found places that we can’t get a mobile signal. Most of the time we hopefully won’t need it but for the Fan Dance they took a different approach. As well as the course marshals having radios they set up two repeater stations at high points in the Brecons. This gives them about 80% coverage of the race route. Because of the way radio works the more people that carry them the higher the chance that you will always be in radio distance of someone even if it isn’t one of the marshals. This means that if something does go wrong help can be summoned very quickly and this could make the difference between life and death for someone.

I’m sure you are all reading this thinking how expensive it all must be to buy a radio etc just for a race but you can buy one suitable for this sort of use on Amazon for less than £20. When you compare that to the cost of a pair of trainers (or even socks !) it begins to seem quite cheap for a piece of potentially life saving equipment.

The race organisers provide all the information you need to set up and use the radio on the public PMR channels (you don’t need a license for these) but these radios are capable of so much more ! It was only after the race I started getting more involve in what the radios can do. With the right radio you can transmit a position that can be tracked automatically on a website… You can also communicate via satellites and even with the cheap £20 radio you can tune in and listen to the International Space Station 🙂

I now take my radio with me on most long runs. I know that the chances are I would be able to contact someone in an emergency even if my mobile had no coverage. If I switch the functionality on friends and family can track me easily online (and there is always someone to chat to)… If you are a race organiser think how good it would be to be able to see the position of the course sweeper at any time ! If other runners were using radios they could alert marshals to an injured runner between marshal points….

I’ve gone on and done my first two exams meaning that I now have an Ofcom license and call sign. I guess I’m a bit of a geek at heart so I’ve really enjoyed building my first bit of radio kit and getting to know the technical side of how it all works.

I’m heading back to the Brecons in January to run the Winter version of the Fan Dance hopefully I’ll only need to use my radio to talk to my support crew but I know if I do need it there will be other people listening 🙂

If you are reading this and are interested in learning more then let me know !


Lisa 🙂


Full time photographer who started running :) Qualified UKA Running Coach

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