After taking care of timing at the race this weekend, I noticed a few things occur and wanted to make note of them here. People may not be aware of these things, but you may help make the race director’s job a little easier.
I found it incredibly interesting to see the way people completed their online registrations. Some people typed their name in all lower case. Some people typed their name in all upper case. And some people typed a weird mix of upper and lower case. (Really? Your first name is all upper case and your last name is all lower case? Really?) It’s kind of a nitpicky thing, but the information looks really sloppy when it’s imported into the timing system software directly from people’s registrations this way. So do your race director a favor and type your name in correctly.
Another thing, register in advance. I didn’t mind typing in 30 or so registrations race morning, but people get REALLY sloppy when filling in the form by hand. They forgot to mark their race choice (5K or 10K), they forgot to include birthdates, they forgot to include their contact info. I couldn’t read some of the handwriting, so I’m pretty sure some people got entered into the system with typos which translates to typos in the results. So if at all possible, just sign up in advance. Then you know you’re registered for the right race, in the right division with the right spelling.
2. Step on the mat
We used an iPico timing system; it’s the kind with the square chips and the big blue mats you run across. A couple of our very fast runners leaped across the mats at the finish line. This caused problems for their times because their chip didn’t register. We had a backup system (the not high-tech stopwatch and writing down time/bib number) in place since this was our first time using the system, so we were able to make sure the people’s times were corrected, but if the person had stepped on the mat we wouldn’t have had issue.
A couple other people leaped across the mat at the start line. Thus they had finish times, but according to the system they had never started. So I had to go alter their information post-race as well.
There was even a couple instances when people tried to run around to the side of the mat when they got to the finish line and we had to urge them to cross the mat.
So the hint is to actually make sure you step on the mat. Yes, it may look like a pretty, bright blue rug that you don’t want to get dirty, but that’s the purpose.
3. Don’t swap chips
When you do a race with a friend or a spouse, keep your chips/bib numbers straight. If the race is organized well, you should be handed those items together and that means they are tied together in the system. So if you swap one or the other with your partner/friend… the results are skewed.
4. Return your chips
If you somehow end up with the chip still attached to your shoe when you get home, make an effort to send it back to the race director. While they’re not SUPER expensive, at about $3 a chip the price would add up if everybody kept their chips. Sure, there is usually someone at the finish line cutting the chips off. But sometimes people slip through. If you’re one of them, just do the director a favor and return it.
Some of these things may seem like common sense, but for some people (especially those that are new at racing) these could serve as good reminders.