The Prez Sez – Help wanted!


 Felton Wright,

I have been thinking about how far we have come with race timing. The Olympics have always had the best timing systems of the day. The1952 Olympics were the first to use the Omega time recorder, which was the first timing system to print out results from a clock. 1972 was the first Olympics where timing reported results to 1/100 of a second. It wasn’t until the 1976 Olympics that a fully automated timing system was required for Olympic competition. And in the same year, 1976, hand timed world records were no longer counted. Large races like the Peachtree 10k did not use chip timing systems until 2009. (Can you imagine how many Bill Lott’s they needed prior to this?)

Hand timed GWTC races were standard in the 70s and the 80s. During the 90s and through 2011 Gulf Winds used chronomix hand timers that were clicked after each finisher crossed the finish line and a printed tape was produced with the times, which were matched up with tear away bib numbers. The early editions of the Fleet Foot (late 70s) all had race results that were hand timed, typed up, mimeographed, and placed in the Fleet Foot. This method was fraught with errors.

Historically the Gulf winds Grand prix committee met after each grand Prix race and scored each eligible club member’s GP points by hand. This required a great deal of labor and many volunteers.

In 2012 many of these problems were eliminated. The club purchased a chip timing system that automatically records each finisher and allows the recorded times to be sorted by age group and printed or emailed almost instantly. While the initial cost was high, we are already seeing a return on our investment. For race directors it is an enormous time saver. For the Grand prix committee it simplifies calculations greatly. For the members, we offer state of the art timing with accurate results. For me personally it is a huge problem. Ever since the club purchased the chip timing system, my 5k times have been getting slower. I am sure it is a system operator error or the chip itself. (Everyone knows chips timing is supposed to result in faster times.) Hopefully Peg and Bill can fix it and find me a faster chip!

There is another urgent problem with this timing system. It has become too popular! We have 16 Club races, a summer trail series, and an increasing list of non-club races that want to use our chip timing system. The problem is that Peg Griffin, Bill Hillison, and Bill Lott are the only ones that know how to run it, and they are stretched thin. We desperately need more club members to learn how to operate the system. Please think about it. If you have an interest, or know someone who would enjoy being part of the timing team please contact myself, Peg, or Bill Hillison to discuss it. There will be a training session offered soon.

Accurate times and quick results are what we all desire from a race. Please help us to be able to continue to improve on this.

Run safe, run fast.