What are Racer Groups?

Categories are complicated – different race formats or sports can mean different things when they say category. To avoid this confusion, Zone4 Timing uses three different types of categories depending on how they are being used: Start GroupsCourse Groups, and Result Groups.

These groups can be created using any racer field you choose from your registration form such as Age or Race Distance. You can also use more then one field to define racer groups such as Age and Gender (e.g. “Men 40-49”), or even Distance, Age and Gender (e.g. “Half Marathon Women 40-49”). Importantly the sorting of racers into groups is done independently for each type of group. That is to say that your Start Groups, Course Groups and Result Groups can be defined using different fields.

Following is a little more detail about the various types of groups and the section of Zone4 Timing they’re configured in:

Start Groups

These are configured in the Start List section of Zone4 Timing and are groups of racers that start together. Here are some examples of start group configurations:

  • In a running race, everyone doing the same distance will usually start together.  If you have a half marathon starting at 9:00 and a 10k starting at 9:30, you would create two start groups, using the field from your registration form one for each distance.
  • In large races, you might want to group your racers into waves based on some criteria, such getting them to enter their expected finish time on the registration form.  Each wave would be a start group in zone4 timing.
  • In cross country ski races, usually some categories are grouped together at the start and then split up only on results, like the “Open Men” category which contains both “Junior Men” and “Senior Men”.  In this case, “Open Men” would be a start group and Junior and Senior Men would be result groups.
  • In the simplest case, everybody in your race starts together and you only have one start group

In a mass start race, a start time recorded on any racer in a start group is applied to all other racers in that start group, that time is assigned to everybody in the start group.  

In an interval start race, racers are still sorted into start groups even though they do not start at the same time – in this case, a start group is a group of racers who all share the same configuration instead of the same start time – they all start in sequence, have their bibs assigned in sequence, and have the same interval in between starters.

Course Groups

These are configured in the Courses section of Zone4 Timing and are groups of racers who are completing the same number of laps on the same course.  Each course group you define can have a different timing configuration – you will be able to set how many laps each course group does, minimum split times for ignoring extra chip times, how many splits are recorded, and which timing devices are used for each split.  Also, when you are producing results it will be enforced that racers who have raced on a different course cannot be grouped together into the same result group.

If you have multiple distances in your race but are only recording a start and finish time for everybody, it might be tempting to simplify your setup at this stage and put everybody in the same course group, but we recommend creating a separate course group for each physical race course even if they share the same timing setup. Doing this gives you the flexibility to change the timing setup later on if it becomes necessary, and makes it easier to create result groups. Also the race timing dashboard can give you quick summaries of how many people within a course group have passed a timing point, as well as warnings about racers who were significantly slower or faster than the average time within their course group, alerting you to racers who might have cut the course or gotten lost – if one course group is actually two different distances, these warnings will not be accurate.

Results Groups

These are configured in the Results section of Zone4 Timing and are racers grouped together because they have relevant fields in common such as being part of the same age and gender category or competing in the same race distance. The main difference between Result Groups and other groups is that you can create multiple result sets with racers grouped differently in each result set. That way you can have results that reflect the overall results of a distance (e.g. Half Marathon results) and then another set that reflects results in age and gender groups (e.g. Half Marathon Men 40-49). These are usually referred to as Category or Age Group results.

Course Group is always used as one of the criteria when setting up result groups – racers in different course groups cannot be in the same result group. If your course groups are 5K and 10K, it wouldn’t make sense to have everybody grouped together in one list on the results. Because of this, you should always be careful to not to make your course groups too specific – if you split racers into 5K female and 5K male course groups, it will not be possible to create a result set with all 5K runners ranked in one list.


Lets say you’re timing a running race and have two distances, a 10km and Half Marathon. You decide that because you only have 100 registrants you will start them all together in one group. However, both distances are competing on different courses that have different timing points. As such they’re sorted into two course groups defined by the distance they registered for (10km and Half Marathon). When it comes to results, racers want to know their placing in their Age/ Gender Category and some are interested in their Overall result in their distance. So you decide to create two results sets, one with racers Grouped by, distance, age, and gender (e.g. Half Marathon Men 40-49) and another grouped only by distance (10km and Half Marathon). As you can tell, in this race Start Groups, Course Groups and Result Groups are all defined using different fields.

Below are examples of what these Racer Groups could look like in their various configuration pages in Zone4 Timing.

Start Groups:

Course Groups:

Result Groups:

Having a good understanding of how these groups work should help when it comes to timing your race.

Updated on 2023-05-08

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