Race day Preparation

Let’s make sure you race goes off without a hitch. Being prepared is the first step to a successful event. Being prepared means knowing what equipment you need, knowing your race, learning about your events location and having a plan for both before and during the race.

Recommendations

  • Have a dedicated person for timing: A lot happens on race day and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. That’s why if you’re timing a race yourself or using our remote timing service it is always recommended to have at least one person dedicated to exclusively to timing.
  • Communicate with the race organizer: Proper communication between the race organizer and the head of timing is essential to a successful event. Make sure you are on the same page on event details such as; bib pickup, start times, timing points and how results will be configured. Make sure you are clear to the organizer about what kind of changes they need to let you know about (course changes, category changes, schedule changes).
  • Get to know your event schedule: You will want to know when everything is going to happen. We recommend writing it all down and making a schedule for you to follow on race day.  These are the key events that the race timer needs to be aware of:
    • Bib pickup or racer check-in – Racers will often want to change categories or registration info at check in.  Have a plan to communicate any changes from racer check-in to timing so that the results are accurate.
    • Race start – Know what needs to be set up at race start – for example, a display clock, a start timing point, or printed start lists for start line volunteers.
    • Awards ceremony – If there are multiple awards presentations during the race day, know which categories will be awarded at each presentation to have the correct set of results ready.

Equipment

There’s a variety of equipment you will need to make sure your event will be a success. Some will be provided by Zone4 through the equipment rental and some you will need to bring yourself.

Provided by Zone4

  • GoChip Timing Chips
  • Activator(s)
  • Timing Loop(s)
  • Phone(s) with GoChip App
  • Wet Weather Kit

Essential Equipment not Provided

  • Laptop in good working order: You will need a good reliable machine with good battery life since this is what you will use to monitor and make changes on race day. It is highly recommended to use Google Chrome as your browser since it has proven to be the most reliable. Tablets and phones are not recommended, however chromebooks have proven to be reliable for race timing.   
  • Heavy Duty Tape (Duck tape or Gaffer’s tape): This is primarily to attach the timing loops to paved surfaces, but can also be handy for solving all sorts of issues that come up.
  • Cordless Drill with fully charged battery: This is essential for attaching the timing loop to a wet surface.
  • Pen & Paper: Race days can be hectic and you may need to write things down as they are happening. This is also a good way to keep track of the days schedule.
  • Extension Cords and Power Brick: You will want power at the finish for laptops and other equipment.
  • Pop up Tent: You will want to have shelter next to the finish line in case of rain or snow, or for shade from the sun.
  • Table: To set up your equipment such as laptop or printer.
  • Chairs: Race days can be long. You will want to sit down.
  • Printer: Although live results have reduced the need for a printer some race organizers still like posting paper results. They can also be handy for awards.
  • Mats: To cover timing loops if your timing points are off road.

Event Location

Getting to know your race venue is also essential for a successful event.  Things to look at are.

  • Power: You will need power for equipment such as Laptops and printers. Find out what the power situation is like at your venue and plan accordingly. Most race venues have power close by that can reached with an extension cord however some venues will require a generator.
  • Wifi and Cell connections: Race timing requires internet access. This can either be through a Wifi network or using cellular data. If your race venue is offline contact us about renting an offline server to time your race.
  • Surface Timing points will be located on: The surface where your timing points will be located will affect the way you will fix them in place. If they will be on a paved surface you will be able to use tape or, if it’s wet, a wet weather kit. Other surfaces such as grass or dirt will require other solutions. Click here to find out more about attaching timing loops to various surfaces.

Before Race Day

  • Build your race file: If you are using the remote timing service we will take care of this, but if you are self timing you will want to have everything done before race day. This means having your start list, courses, devices and results all created and assigned the day before. Use our help docs to help with building your race file.
  • Use the help docs: When we have a question this is where we go. Don’t know where the help docs are? Well congratulations you are already there! They are also linked to from our homepage as shown below.
  • Test your timing Equipment: Get to know the equipment. The best way to do this is to create a test race and give it a try.
  • Run a Test Race: If you are self Timing it is a good idea to build a test race file. Use some chips to run racers through your course setup. You don’t need a real race to do this since loops, if kept bunched up can be set up in your house.

On Race Day

  • Before heading to the race site: Double check you have all the equipment necessary.
  • Arrive early: We recommend arriving about two hours before the first start for most races. If your race has lots of timing points or a long travel time between timing points, you may want to give yourself more time.  You should aim to be finished setting up an hour before the first start.
  • Touch base: Talk with the race organizer and volunteers to make sure nothing has changed.
  • Test each timing point: Each timing point consist of a loop, an activator and a phone. When installing a timing point, you will want a loop checker and a chip not assigned to any racer. Test each loop by making sure the loop checker flashes red when it is over the loop. Then pass a chip over the loop and make sure the time shows up on the phone and gets synced to the web. Once this is done your loop is good to go!
  • Watch the first few racers finish: It’s always a good idea to be there when the first few racers are finishing. If you aren’t using a manual backup it’s a good idea to note down the number and times of the first few finishers.
  • Stay Calm: A lot can happen on race day and it’s easy to get stressed or distracted. Staying calm and keeping things in perspective will help you to make good decisions.

Post race

The race is finished and it’s time to wrap up. You want to get out of the race venue as quickly as possible so that you can get on with your day. Before you do there are a couple things you will want to check.

  • Look over results: Yes you’ve been watching them come in all day, but you should take one last look and make sure everything looks the way it should be. A couple key things to check for are:
    • All racers without a finish time have been marked as DNF or DNS.
    • None of the racers you marked as DNS have a finish time – sometimes racers will tell you they aren’t starting, and then change their mind and race anyways.
    • Nobody is winning their category by a huge amount.  This can indicate that somebody cut the course or is in the wrong category.  Or maybe they’re just really fast, but it’s good to be sure.
  • Touch Base with the Organizer: Touch base with the race organizer and if possible have them check over the results. This is mostly to make sure that everything is configured the way they want it.

 

Two Golden Rules of Chip Timing

There are few issues that cannot be dealt with during or after the race. Mistakes with the race file can always be fixed and times that are recorded can always be re-synced, but there are two mistakes that can be catastrophic to race timing. Thankfully these are easily avoided. So on the day of your event make sure that:

  • Racers get handed the right timing chip: Handing the wrong chips to the wrong racers can be catastrophic, especially if there is no way of finding out who has which chip. If it’s only a couple racers getting the wrong chip then it’s usually easy to find out where the mistake has been made and make the change, but if it’s every racer this can be difficult or impossible to solve.
  • Turn on and test activators: This is especially true for the finish line. Forgetting to turn on other activators can usually be forgiven, but at the end of the day all that really matters is the finish time and if the activator is not on or not working properly then you will not get times. Remember that activators have 18hrs of battery life so there is no problem turning them on before the race and leaving them running.

Well you’ve made it to the end of this doc so you are well on your way to running a successful event. Here is some recommended reading if you want to keep this good habit going.

Timing a Race

Hardware setup guide

Wet Weather Kits

 

Updated on August 1, 2018

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