Timing a Running Race

Every type of race has its own set of unique challenges. This is a guide to setting up the registration and timing a running race. Keep in mind that this is not a complete guide to registration and timing. Having some general knowledge of how the system works before hand will help you to understand this guide.



  • GoChip: It is highly recommended to use Zone4’s GoChip timing system for running races. This is a fail-safe, easy to set up system that can greatly reduce the number of volunteers required for timing as well as provide your event with accurate live results. Contact Zone4 to find out more about GoChip rentals. Backup should be provided using the Android Zone4 Go app keypad function.


  • Android App: If GoChip timing isn’t feasible the recommended alternative is to use the android Zone4 Go app keypad bib entry as a primary input device with paper bib order as a  backup. This method can be useful for races with under 100 participants, but because it is a manually operated function users can be overwhelmed when many racers are finishing at the same time. It is of course also much less accurate then GoChip. Plus many races these days have an expectation of chip timing and accurate results.


This is a quick guide to the recommended method of setting up your registration form for running races. See here for a complete guide to setting up an event registration.

Generally when racers are registering for running races they register for a distance (e.g. 5km, 10km, Half Marathon), select a Gender (M/F), and enter their Age (21,55,etc). Instead of entering a long list of category combinations to your registration (10km M 20-29, 5km M 30-39) you can simplify your registration form by just adding a Gender field, a Date or Birth field and a Distance field.  Pictured below is an example of how your registration fields may look. To find out more about setting up categories in Zone4 Registration, see our documentation here.

Note that for the age field it is recommended to specify that you want their age on race day (as is usually the case).



This is a quick guide to setting up Zone4 timing for running races. Clicking on section titles will bring you to more complete documentation.

Create a Race

When you Create your race select “Running” as your sport. You will then have the choice of selecting either “Chip Start” or “Gun Start” as your race format. This is important as it will affect some of the default settings in Zone4 Timing. If you’re unsure which to select here is a short description of each.

  • Chip Start: When your race starts racers start times are recorded when they cross the start line. This format is recommended for larger events when it will take a while for all of them to make their way across the start line. For this method you will need to have a timing point set up at your start line.
  • Gun Start: When your race starts all racers start times are immediately recorded. This format is recommended for smaller events when there will not be a significant amount of time between the first and last racers across the start line. 

Once the sport and format have been selected choose the registration you want to import racers from and “Create Race”.

Start List

Once you navigate to the “Start List” tab you will be asked to choose whether you want to “Create Custom Start Groups” or “All Racers in One Group”.

All Racers in One Group: If you only have one distance, this is the recommended option . Some running races with various race distances also choose to start all racers in one group. This is generally only feasible in small races and can increase the chances of racers completing the wrong course. This should be taken into account.

Create Custom Start Groups: This is the recommended option for the vast majority of running races. Start Groups for running races are usually defined by the distance that racers choose. As such, when you go to configure your Start List you will choose to “Define start groups using racer fields” and then select the field from your registration form that corresponds to the distance racers registered for. If we continue to use the example pictured in the Registration section this would be the field “Saturday Events” for the first day and “Sunday Events” for the second. If however you’re

These steps are numbered below.

Once you create groups you will be brought to the Start List page which will show all . From here navigate to the “Configure” page as shown below.

When you create a race it will automatically pull in all your registrants from your entire event. This means that if you have races on multiple days of you will have some un-grouped racers each day. These are the racers you are not registered for any races on that day. In this case they are shown as “No Saturday Event”. You can delete this group as pictured below.

Once this is done you can “Assign Racer Numbers” and “Assign Start Times” as described in the Configure Start List documentation.

Device Setup

Racers should always be divided into course groups based off distance. In most cases this will be “Use Start Groups” as start groups are usually set up the same way. If start groups do not reflect race distances then select “Create custom course groups”. If all racers are doing the same course then select “All racer do the same number of laps”.

It is also recommended to give groups a minimum split. This will make recording false times for racers less likely. If one course group is doing multiple laps and you’re planning on recording lap times then set the number of laps in the window provided.  Pictured below is what your course setup might look like.

Tip: You should also consider setting up a precall for your race, especially if you have an announcer. Precall is a timing point racers cross 10-20 seconds before the finish so that the announcer can call their name before the finish. This feature is very popular for running races and adds to the atmosphere and racer experience at your event. 


Generally there is demand for two different types of results in running races. These are; racers overall position in their distance and their age group ranking.  All public results sets should have the same settings chosen and similar fields displayed. Recommended settings are pictured below.

Gun Start Races

Races using a gun start instead of chip start will have “Use the recorded mass start time” selected.

Age Group Results

This is generally the results set that is in the highest demand at running races. When you create your new results set you will want to choose to “Create New Result Groups”.

You will then want to select Gender and Age as your three fields. For age you will need to set age ranges for the groups. What these age ranges are will be up to you but Running races typically use 5 or 10 year categories. Once this is done your “Create new results set” page may look something like what is pictured below.

Warning: If you have set date of birth as a registration field rather than age you will need to “Calculate age from Date of Birth“. This will use the DOB to assign all racers an age and create an age field.

Remember you can always change the names of these groups once they’re created.

Overall Results

For this results set you will choose to “Group racers by course”. If Start Groups and Course Groups are the same then you will select “Group racers by start order”

Make sure all the settings in the “Configure”  are correct. Then add fields to display on results. It is recommended to add bib number (this may come in handy when timing the race) and city if available.



Once your results sets set up you can make the Overall and Age Group results public.

Updated on 2017-10-18

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