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ATHLETICS : Marathon orders chips with everyone

Competitors in this year's Vienna Marathon will have to pound the beat at all times. Any attempts to harness horsepower, as was the case in last year's event, will set alarm bells ringing. And any unscheduled diversions will be instantly revealed.

The organisers plan to attach computer chips to runners' shoes to stop a repeat of last year's cheating when competitors rode the Metro and took short cuts to improve their times.

All runners will have a special micro-chip tied to their shoelaces to enable organisers to check they stick to the route, the marathon organiser, Wolfgang Konrad, told the Austrian daily Neue Kronen Zeitung yesterday.

Konrad said that last year some runners took short cuts in Prater Park, while an Italian who clocked the same time as the winner of the women's event rode part of the way on the underground.

The chip will not only enable spot checks along the route, but will also allow precise measurement of runners' start and finish times, Konrad said.

Many runners in the mass start lose as much as three minutes before actually reaching the starting line, he said.