Race Timing Backup Plan

It wasn’t all that long ago I was writing about things like: battery backup, electrical generators, etc. to make sure your high-tech timing solution doesn’t fall to its knees and leave you up the proverbial creek without a paddle.  I have a background in designing systems that are redundant and fail-safe in nature, so presumably it has carried over into how I time races.

Race timing surely isn’t a life or death situation, nor is a complete failure going to be comparable to something as major as the shutdown of a stock exchange or air traffic control.  But that doesn’t mean race timers shouldn’t have a viable backup plan.  The finest backup plan can even fail.  So what is one to do?  Your best!

While all of our chip timing coding is being integrated into Good Times, we’ve taken the time to slip in an old-fashioned technique albeit with a high-tech twist: the Tic Sheet.  Tic Sheets are invaluable for manual timing and allow a timer to record finish times in sequential order, then merge them with runner bibs also captured in sequential order to produce race results.  Fortunately, Good Times doesn’t need Tic Sheets under typical circumstances, yet the justification for having them was worth the development effort.

Consider an extremely high runner density at the finish line that would prevent the timer from recording racer bibs in Good Times.  Despite the fact that the association between elapsed time and racer bib has to be made at some time, it doesn’t actually have to be made the moment the runner crosses the finish line.  Sure, that’s the best way, but at an extremely high runner density it becomes impossible.  Enter the Tic Sheet.

The race timer captures as many racer bibs as possible, but simply records an elapsed time without the bib during high runner densities.  Periodically, the race timer also sends the Tic Sheet to the database where another race volunteer can print it when convenient.  The Tic Sheet contains all of the elapsed times, and every bib that was captured.  Bibs that were not captured can be filled in on the Tic Sheet, provided to the race timer, and entered into Good Times when convenient.

Now that’s a good backup plan to make sure you can time challenging races with a larger number of runners.  Chip timing, once released, will make it possible to time races with very large numbers of participants.  Stay tuned!

It won’t be too long and I’ll put up a video on our YouTube Channel demonstrating how to use Tic Sheets when you need them.  In the meantime, enjoy the rest of our website, or visit us on Facebook, too.  Thanks for reading!

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