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Runners compete in race from treadmill

Technically Incorrect: All you had to do to participate in the 2015 New Balance Falmouth Road Race was download an app.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


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It's as if you're there. Well, almost. AP/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

I've always thought that those who run long distances are secretly running away from some peculiar nagging element in their lives.

Their sheer insistence on running mile after mindless mile suggests as much penance as pleasure.

Still, many love to wear the skimpiest, most technologically advanced materials in order to sweat until they can walk no more. I wasn't, however, aware that they could now enter races without bothering to run on the road.

As the Associated Press reports, the 2015 New Falmouth Road Race in Cape Cod that took place last Sunday was among the first to let runners compete from a treadmill.

The intrepid 100 invited to do this downloaded an app called Virtual Runner, created by a company called Outside Interactive. Once you have the app, you choose your course -- which offers a runner's perspective -- prepare your treadmill and start running.

The logic is that road races can accommodate only a certain number of runners. Why not, then, allow others to compete virtually?

Surely, though, conditions on a treadmill are slightly softer than on a road. Is this entirely fair?

Of course it isn't. The virtual category was kept separate from the real-life one. Still, as Outside Interactive says on its site, this takes away from some of the boredom of running. You feel like you're part of something bigger.

Mashable reports that 83 virtualists have entered their results so far. They paid a $40 fee to take part. The real race cost $65 to enter.

You'll be wondering, though, how the app can possibly replicate the real contours of a road race. After all, the real world isn't flat. Well, the app prompts you to raise or lower your treadmill elevation. I wonder if some might be tempted to cheat.

Still, Outside Interactive has to be right. This is surely an interesting competition for some. It's like the competitive video game world, but just a little healthier.

I wonder whether, though, just as in the competitive video game world, the treadmill runners will get drug-tested.