Strange Situations Timing Races

Timing races for my two beta customers uncovered a few strange situations I realized I needed to accommodate.  Though I use the word strange, I think they’re more commonplace than what most people realize.  Some involve human error, and others are just how software can be designed to deal with human choice.  Let’s face it, many of us have had to work with rigid software that allows little (if any) flexibility in handling any situation not normal or expected.

During one race, a lady crossed the finish line and unbeknownst backtracked about a quarter-mile and finished a second time with her younger son.  To her, crossing the finish line a second time wasn’t a big deal, but both a fun and noble way to lend some encouragement to her little boy.  But already having her initial time registered, it created a little confusion with the race timers.

At another event, the event coordinator had already given runners their racing bibs prior to having them approach the registration area.  The starting line of the race was about three miles out from where we had setup for both registration and timing.  Participants would show up with their bibs for registration, then board a bus to be transported to the starting line.  The last bus was leaving at 10 minutes before the start of the event.  Not surprisingly, about ten participants showed up at the registration area immediately before the last bus departed.  Wanting to make sure they made the bus ride, all ten decided that since they already had their bibs they should bypass registration and just board the bus to make sure they made it to the starting line in time.

When timing a race, one also has to remember that humans are imperfect beings.  We make mistakes.  I’ve seen race timers using computerized timing and manually entering bib numbers enter the wrong bib numbers quite frequently.  In fact, I think it’s safe to say that every event has at least one entry error when using this method.  And it should be no surprise that an overly zealous runner who finishes the race and can’t find their time posted will immediately make his or her way over to the timing officials to inform them of their mistake.

Why do I mention these scenarios? Because when it comes to how to time a race, it’s important to anticipate these scenarios and know how to handle them beforehand.  Good Times provides the Event Exceptions window to help manage these scenarios.  For example, if a timer enters a wrong bib, the Event Exceptions window will show a list of all bibs entered which either do not have an associated participant, or were entered more than once.  It also shows a list of participants who have no elapsed times recorded, and makes it easy to find the erroneously entered bib, correct it, and associate it with a participant.   In the case of the 10 participants who never registered, those bibs would show up as mis-keyed bibs.  Fortunately, you can add a new participant right from the Event Exceptions window and automatically associate their elapsed time with their registration data.

These scenarios make sense when you see them; moreso than when you read about them.  So I encourage you to check out our video Handling Event Exceptions found on our YouTube Channel.

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