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Balloon race flies to finish on Net

The Internet was the medium of record for news that a Swiss psychiatrist and British adventurer became the first to travel around the world in a balloon.

The Internet was the medium of record this morning with news that a Swiss psychiatrist and British adventurer became the first to travel around the world in a balloon.

CNN Interactive, MSNBC.com, and ABCNews.com, among others, all carried real-time reports of the record feat.

Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones marked the end of their 26,600-mile journey by crossing an imaginery finish line in Africa. The two continued on toward Egypt, where they were expected to land tomorrow.

Circling the globe in a balloon is one of the last remaining challenges in aviation. And the event was perfectly suited for the Web, which has become a popular venue to track journeys ranging from balloon contests to dog races, with users taking advantage of the medium's interactive capabilities.

ABC's Web site showed a map that let users trace the balloonists' journey. CNN included an audio clip. Most of the sites included a large color photo of the 180-foot-high balloon as it floated along.

The balloonists' own Web site, Breitling Orbiter 3, also carried the news. The site was sluggish and its message board was jammed with well-wishers.

"Message board busy--try again later," the page read this morning.