On GPS websites like VesselFinder and MarineTraffic, little dots and arrows stand for big dollars in international commerce. Next week, the same kind of satellite technology opens up a new view onto another kind of maritime activity. Beginning Friday, September 25, the Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI) broadcasts live race coverage of this year’s two-day SCI Mountain Challenge, an outdoor adventure race helping to underwrite the services SCI provides to mariners around the world.
Small electronic tracking devices send information to a satellite about the movements of competitors traversing the mountains of western Maine during the race. Like a marine traffic monitoring system, colored shapes on a real-time map mark out their whereabouts. With live tracking, the world can see who makes the speediest, most efficient run in support of North America’s largest mariners’ service agency, SCI.
Forty-five teams drawn from various sectors of the maritime industry vie for the top spots. They contend in a race through 25 miles of wilderness, ascending over 3,000 vertical feet each day. The race poses a test of endurance inspired by mariners, with competitors facing unpredictable elements, isolation and physically demanding work to complete the challenge over two days.
A major component of the event includes fundraising for SCI’s mariner support services. Time on the race course comprises only half of the benchmarks used to calculate team rankings. Teams of three must also solicit sponsorship donations. Those crossing the finish line with the fastest time and with the largest payload of donation dollars rank highest in the standings.
Maritime enthusiasts from around the world can follow live race coverage at http://scimountainchallenge.com/live and track activity from the event on social media with the hashtag #SCIMtnChal. To assist competitors in their navigation, spectators can make a team donation at http://smschur.ch/scimtnchal.