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I have a big question... In the thread entitled "DAG Timing System" which was started years ago, Pete states "RRTC has been contacted by DAG Timing Systems requesting RRTC approval of their timing system".

I'm really curious about this. Does the RRTC officially evaluate and sanction timing systems? If so, what are the criteria and where can info be found?

This is a potentially really important area for both timers and users of timing services.

I'm not entirely satisfied with some of the commercial systems out there and also with how some timers mis-use their equipment. It would be great if some competent entity (RRTC perhaps) were determining just what a particular system could and could not do, and perhaps what a timer needed to do to attain a requisite performance standard, from a technical perspective.

Anyone? Thanks for any thoughts.

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My two cents: experience with several timing systems has lead me to the conclusion that the best of them all as far as accuracy is concerned is an experienced Time Machine operator in conjunction with gun time. Of course, this assumes the finisher is wearing a bib and the bib is visible to the select timer. It assumes that the finish density is low, such as in a small marathon or ultra.

All RFID timing systems have limitations. When properly used, Ipico, Chronotrack, and Jaguar have all performed well in races I have been involved with. Jaguar works best for small events. Ipico and Chronotrack can handle any size event. All will miss some tiny percentage of chips at either the start or the finish for myriad reasons.

Dual foot chips create the most accurate RFID results, IMO. Few races go to the trouble or the expense. Ipico and ChronoTrack bib chips are so sensitive that they require measures to keep spectators who are wearing bibs away from the start and finish lines - as, 15 feet or more, or behind a solid barrier. Using these chips with RunScore nevertheless produces accurate results when multiple mats are properly placed on the start and finish lines. With Bib chips, it is essential to employ "Last Seen/First Seen" technology either in RunScore or in the reader settings.

There are several other factors affecting accuracy and reliability. Some can be controlled by timers, and some require users to take some responsibility for using the chip properly.
Last edited by pastmember
Thanks Gene for your reply, and thanks for your input, Lyman. That’s the kind of comment I was hoping for.

We’re planning to add RFID timing to our services at BuffaloRunners, but we’re concerned about selecting the appropriate system for our needs. We’d like to be able to time championship events. We’re not satisfied with most of the “chip” timers available to us with respect to championship level accuracy, precision, and completeness.

The current (2013) USTAF Rules of Competition do mention transponder system requirements. Rule 165-16(e)implies a role for the RRTC when it states the following:

16. The use of transponder timing systems in race walking events not held entirely
within a stadium, road, and cross country races is permitted provided that:
(e) the system, including the implementation of its components and its technical
specifications, is approved by the finish line subcommittee of the Road
Running Technical Council;

That’s why I was hoping to find some guidance here!

My concern is that some otherwise great systems really probably can not adequately determine: the precise instant when a finisher crosses the certified finish line; can not adequately separate individuals in the proper finish order from clusters of close finishers; and the reality is that we won’t get a 100% read rate with the more popular and convenient passive transponders. This puts the burden on the timer to know his system’s limitations and compensate.

For example, the marvelous and innovative DAG system: its my understanding they have to deploy workers with hand-held readers to “wand” the finishers to capture finishes missed by the detection wire --- ok, that’s a solution, but the wanders are mobile, therefore they probably cant be capturing the finish at the precise finish line or at any fixed distance form it. The system is fine for what its intended for, but I cant imagine that ever being acceptable for championship purposes.

ChampionChip historically required a “secondary” mat to capture the missed reads, but our local ChampionsChip/MyLaps timer frequently skips the secondary mat – the result is many missed reads. But, even with the secondary, does ChampionChip deploy algorithms to “move the finisher back” if he’s captured only on the 2nd mat? Is that acceptable?

It would be real helpful if an organization like the RRTC could evaluate the various RFID systems and determine if and how they should be used in sanctioned or championship events.
I always thought chip timing couldn't mess up but back in 2008 it did. My wife was taking a movie of me coming across the finish line and as you can see the movie shows that I out sprinted the 1st girl but yet the results show it completely different. I did try and get the race director to change the results but he wouldn't or couldn't.
If any one wants to see the video let me know I will send it to you since I do not know how to put it in here. Also to see results go here.
It is the Pvt Heath Warner Memorial 5k race where it shows I placed 14th and Kristen placed 13 which should be reversed.
Jim -- Thanks for sharing this. I visited the link to the results. WOW! You are fast! Nice run!

But thats exactly what I'm talking about. As a runner I'd really like to not be concerned with the veracity of the timing system. You were robbed!

There is a photo on the first page which must be from an older event. The "old" photo shows a typical ChampionChip setup with properly laid out primary and secondary mats. The only thing that jumps out is the narrowness of the finish zone.

But the photo links for this event show a different timing system. Its the newer ChronoTrack system and the runners have the "D-Tag" on their laces.

YIKES! This is one of my leading candidate systems. I'm very disappointed that it failed you.

Chronotrack has improved their game a little since 2008, but this is still a concern.

The good timers would have also deployed either or both video equipment monitoring the finish and several individuals working vigorously on Flying Feet Time Machines, capturing the "select times" for review prior to posting "final" resuls. This absolutely needs to be done for the top finishers, like yourself in this case. Unfortunately, that did not happen here.

To paraphrase Clint Eastwood (heck I'm really disapponted here, so lets combine two of his movie quotes) ...

"A Timer has got to know his system's limitations. Well do ya, punk?"


There is never a reason to not have backups for timing. Time machines, as you say are an essential part of this. With an experienced operator, The Time Machine is the number one most reliable system of catching accurate results for multiple finishers.

For top finishers in a money race, trained eyeballs - judges - are another critical piece. Take a look at this photo of the finish: Who Was First?. Q: Who was the winner? Tim's chip registered before Meb's. A: Anyone who had a side or angle view of this could see that Meb clearly won.

The timers simply went into the RunScore results database and corrected the order of finish.
My views on this will take a loooong time. I hope to have something by the end of the weekend.
The photo you mentioned is not a very good example. Most high level competitions would use a combination of transponder & FAT (Fully Automatic Timing). It is standard practice to have the tape holders just past the actual finish line by a foot or two) so as not to obstruct the view of the FAT camera(s)

Back in the 1980’s, when I was RRTC Chairman, various rules and responsibilities were being discussed and implemented as RRTC was being fitted into the larger USATF organization.

I do not remember who proposed it, or how it came to be a part of RRTC, but somehow we became responsible for vetting the various finish line systems that were coming into being. Beyond placing the responsibility with us, no real guidance was given as to what was to be done in the approval process.

As RRTC Chairman I was puzzled as to what to do when a new system came into being. I’m comfortable with dealing with course measurement because I think I know something about it. With timing systems this was not the case. Each new timing system brought with it technology with which I was not familiar. The real experts were the people who developed and used the timing systems. I did not think that RRTC as a group was qualified to pass judgment on these new systems.

I remember approving one timing system. I asked some questions of the applicants and got satisfactory answers, and approved the systems. At the time I felt that my review was inadequate, but I lacked the knowledge to do any better. Also, I was conscious that the applicant had put time and money into the development of their system, and it seemed a bit hard on them to ask them to delay the approval.

The situation today remains the same. We are tasked, on paper, with a job that we do not really know how to do.

The timing system may be RRTC approved, but on the day of any specific race, was the system operated properly? When the Records Committee looks at a set of race results, how do they know what may have been “adjusted” by the people who submitted the paperwork?

This is not a new problem. It’s been around since the days of handing out paper place cards at the finish.
Dave, agreed. This was one of many actions by USATF officials at this event that I and others questioned at that time. But, it was clear that USATF as represented by the officials on site had little interest in hearing from Montgomery County Road Runners Club volunteers about how to best conduct this event. We at MCRRC looked into using FAT cameras, but none were available for rental for the time of the event. A purchase at that time was out of the question. MCRRC was already going $28,000 into the red at this point due to deficiencies in sponsorships and in the fundraising commitments of USATF. That kind of deficit would have been devastating to some smaller clubs. A lot of volunteers in MCRRC worked many years to raise that kind of money when MCRRC was younger.

As to the use of FAT at this event, after it was over, the timers all agreed it would have been overkill and of no value. The finish density was never so high that the order of finish was ever in question. Had there been a closer finish than in the photo, and if the 5 or 6 judges were to disagree, there were cameras above and on all sides of the action, including a video cam. We never had to use any of the photos or video to confirm any order of finish for any of the events. Our select timers got all but a handful of finishers in every event and results were posted as fast as by any methods possible at that time.

A comment by the lead timer at the conclusion of the event: "We could have timed and scored this with popsicle sticks".

Originally posted by David Katz:
My views on this will take a loooong time. I hope to have something by the end of the weekend.
The photo you mentioned is not a very good example. Most high level competitions would use a combination of transponder & FAT (Fully Automatic Timing). It is standard practice to have the tape holders just past the actual finish line by a foot or two) so as not to obstruct the view of the FAT camera(s)

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