I time about 20 races a year using cards. Some home made code very reliably assigns overall and age group places. Using a hot spot, I can have results posted on my web site before the awards ceremony is over. During the race, it can tell you what any finisher's place is (like 3rd place female 20 -24) as soon as the computer operator gets the card. It can print out "results so far" for races when the director sees everybody leaving and there are some walkers still way out on the course.
However, the problem of runners walking off with cards has just gotten worse as people get used to automatic timing systems. We have someone dedicated to snagging them as they exit the chute. That does great for up to 100 which is about 90% of my races. Even then though, you get the feeling that runners (no feedback, just a feeling) consider themselves 'diminished' by having to fill out the card - "What's this for? "
So I am soliciting ideas for quickly and reliably identifying finishers in the chute.
a. Does anybody have a "proven" design for a pull tag spike that only allows tags to go on the spike one way eliminating the dropped spindle on a windy day nightmare scenario?
b. I have experimented a little with a bar code reader (too slow and bend sensitive) and voice to text (possible as a partial solution). Next thing may be recording bibs with a small printing calculator with a headset and voice backup.
c. One thing that intrigues me is use of a hand held RFID reader to zap IDs (2' range maybe) as runners exit the chute. U Grok It (I think) sounds like it would work but it is about $500 which is a lot for an experiment.