Through Highs and Lows, CP Communications Covers the Boston Marathon

The 26.2 miles that define the marathon would pose a broadcast challenge even in the most perfect conditions. Marked by hilly terrain and crowded RF spectrum, the conditions in Boston are anything but. Add in the Boston Marathon’s signature point-to-point trajectory, and television coverage of the event can be a daunting task. Once again, CP Communications will accept the challenge on April 16, covering the world’s oldest annual marathon from Hopkinton, MA, to Boston.

“The course is slightly different because it’s a linear course,” explains Tom Sharkoski, general manager, CP Communications. “It’s a straight line, so going a full 23 to 26 miles straight out presents more of a challenge than having a course that envelops an area.”

As it did  for last year’s coverage of the Boston Marathon, CP Communications will deploy a slow, low-flying airplane. Equipped with an aerial camera system and dual RF repeat, it tracks the two lead trucks. The two lead trucks relay outbound video feeds to the plane, which relays them to the Prudential Center.

In addition to the receive point provided by the airplane, CP Communications sets up six receive sites along the route: at the start line, Ashland Community Center, Train Hill, Wellesley, Heartbreak Hill, and the Prudential Center.

The two on-course trucks, relaying video feeds to both the plane and terrestrial receive sites, will be equipped with Cineflex camera systems. Two on-course motorcycles will track the race using ENG cameras.

While certainly daunting, the point-to-point trajectory of the Boston Marathon isn’t CP Communications’ only challenge. The famously hilly landscape of Boston gives the course a 459-ft. elevation difference from start to finish.

“You’ve got a lot of valleys,” says Sharkoski. “You’ve got plenty of hills, but it seems like most of our receives are somewhere in between or in the valleys, which makes it a little bit more challenging. Physics is physics, and [sometimes] the biggest challenge is Mother Nature.”

Universal Sports Network will provide live television and online coverage of the 2012 Boston Marathon, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Monday April 16. The marathon will air on Universal Sports Network, with live streaming available on UniversalSports.com and through BAA.org.

WBZ-TV, the CBS affiliate in Boston, will provide exclusive live local coverage of the Marathon, with a pre-race special beginning at 8 a.m. ET and race coverage from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET.