Marathon man

This Sunday, Lee Bowyer will be running the Liverpool Marathon. He emailed me a few months ago with an idea about doing it with some additional hardware on board.

Lee. Photograph taken while not running.

This is Lee. Photograph taken while not running.

Lee is running to raise funds for a charity called Addaction. He says:

I am supporting Addaction because of all the wonderful work they do with those who have alcohol and drug misuse problems. Thanks to wonderful people like those at Addaction I haven’t touched alcohol for nearly three years.

We got him talking to fellow marathon-runner Pete “Mythic Beasts” Stevens, they subsequently had long discussions about the corrosive nature of sweat, and things went quiet for a bit.

Lee bounced back into my inbox yesterday with a device to unveil. Meet the Raspberry Kiss.

Raspberry Kiss. Note little pancake motor.

Raspberry Kiss. Note little pancake motor.

Raspberry Kiss in sweat-proof housing for marathon

Raspberry Kiss in sweat-proof housing

What’s it do? Dead simple: the device is strapped around Lee’s waist, and allows people to track him on a map as he runs the marathon. There’s a GPS tracker attached to the Raspberry Pi, along with a little portable modem and a battery pack. The modem uploads information from the GPS module to a database on his webserver (hosted on a Raspberry Pi, natch), so you can see where he is on a map on his website.


But there’s more! You’ll have spotted the little pancake motor in the first picture – it’s the same sort of motor that makes your phone vibrate. Every time someone makes a donation, the motor buzzes to let Lee know – motivating and massaging all at once.

Everybody who donates will be entered into a prize draw. At Raspberry Pi, we don’t normally sponsor prizes like this (simply because we get asked to do so several times a day, and saying yes to everybody would cripple us financially), but we’re breaking our own rule for Lee’s marathon. The winning name picked out of a (sweaty) hat will win a Raspberry Pi 3 with a case signed by Eben, a Sense HAT and a camera board; we might pop some other goodies in the bag too.

We recommend waiting until Sunday to donate (you can fill out a form on Lee’s website that’ll send you an email to remind you when the marathon starts), so that you can motivate Lee with charitable giving. Good luck Lee. We really hope the thing doesn’t chafe.




Harvey avatar

Wow, got to donate

Pete Stevens avatar

I’ll be lazing by a pool in France. I might take a short jog in sympathy, but probably not the full 26.

Good Luck Lee!

Liz Upton avatar

I plan on participating from my sofa.

ukscone avatar

Eben has motorised your sofa?

Nic avatar

Sponsored by PiBorg?

Michael Horne avatar

Wonderful stuff. Best wishes to Lee! And big hugs to Liz for blogging it – a thoroughly worthy cause!

Lee Bowyer avatar

Thanks Man, and yes it was wonderful of Liz to do this for me and Addaction. Big Raspberry Kisses for Liz :)

craig bowyer avatar

Love it! Well done bro! Good luck in the marathon x

Lorna Lynch avatar

Good luck Lee!

Sensei avatar

Great cause! Kudos to the Foundation for supporting.

Also you know you’re famous and have reached celebrity status when something you sign results in people just throwing money at it. Several years from now that Pi will be auctioned at Tiffany’s for billions.

Bowyer Senior avatar

To think this all started with an electronics kit from Tandy back in the 1980s.
You’ll be getting at least 26 buzzes on Sunday from your M&D. ?

Shannon avatar

Thoughtful looking guy… What is he contemplating?
Will they also be logging speed and direction? Forget the buzzer. Make it a shocker, and you could make a donation for a chance to prod him to run faster… Just kidding. That would be mean. This is really interesting and cool. You should also throw a heart rate, temperature, and humidity sensor so you can see how much he’s sweating.

Homer Hazel avatar

All right folks, I think we should annoy him out of his mind while he is running. I am definitely going to make a donation during the run. I think this is a tremendous idea.

Liz Upton avatar

I am thinking many small donations.

ukscone avatar

many, many small donations. A Raspberry Pi watching average speed and if it drops below 16km/h a quick 2p donated?

ignaloidas avatar

Prfect plan for wining and/or motivating

Haggishunter avatar

How about tracking his running rhythm, and timing donations to be very slightly faster so he’ll (sub)consciously speed up to keep in time?

Martin O'Hanlon avatar

Brilliant idea.

Gordon77 avatar

Great idea! All the best.

How big is the battery?

Lee Bowyer avatar

Hey, I was using the Huawei E5730 Mobile Wifi for connectivity and I also used it as a power bank for the Pi. In tests I managed to get 8 hours out of it, but with the heat of the day (got a nice sun burn by the way) it lasted a heck of a lot less – not sure how long yet, need to have a look :(

zyxwvu Shi avatar

When will that new Model A be on sale? I see that SoC isn’t PoP installed and the Broadcom logo is on it.

karan avatar

That’s a pi 2!

JPW avatar

Simply add a capacitor, transformer, power-transistor/relay circuit and a couple of electrodes and you could get the Pi to deliver an ‘encouragement signal’ to yourself at around mile 18 to make sure you get round ;-)

Homer Hazel avatar

I will not be able to provide multiple donations throughout the day. A family emergency came up and I have to visit a family member in the hospital. I gave a small donation at around 6:00 AM California USA Time. I will try to give more throughout the day if I am able to leave the hospital

Lee Bowyer avatar

Hey Homer, no worries. I hope that your family is OK. Take care of yourself. X

Lee Bowyer avatar

Thank you to everyone for their encouragement and donations !! Over €1000 euros have been raised and I am very, very grateful !!

Even though the Raspberry Kiss batteries gave out half way round the course (I think the heat took a toll) I managed to keep going and crossed the finish line at 5h59 and 42 seconds :) Needless to say I sort of messed up my run, but it was fun and for a worthy cause more importantly.

I’ll be doing the prize draw this weekend, I’ll keep you posted !!

A big thanks to Liz for her help too,

Kaiwan Billimoria avatar

Fantastic! Way to go Lee; have a super one

Haroon avatar

Hi Lee, just wondering what GPS device you used? And how you linked everything together? Just working on a project similar to this and needed some advice!

Thanks a lot,

P.s congrats on the run, its awesome how much you raised! ;)

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