How a race is scored
By Fred Deckert
This is for all you runners who may be wondering just how your race results actually come together. It’s really not nearly as complicated as tracking tennis points. For most GWTC races this is how it works. When you cross the finish line you are handed a card with a number on it, your finish position. Meanwhile, you have been timed as you crossed the line by someone with a printing timer. You are then expected to fill out on that card, your name, age and sex. You may also enter the finish time, but the official one will be from that printed timer record. You then drop the card in a box denoting your age and sex category, for instance; female 40-44. Race volunteers then use those cards to calculate the overall and age group awards. Usually the official times will be compiled later by correlating the times on the tape with the finishing positions.
Often you will see in the completed results, blank spots where names should appear. This has happened because someone has not turned in that vital finish card. Oddly, some folks don’t realize this is a necessary part of the result gathering. Other errors can also creep into the results. If you run back to your friend and accompany him/her to the finish, you will be timed again. If you then refuse a card, since you’ve already gotten one, the timer tape will have an extra time recorded. This “ghost” time can and does often really distort the results.
Other problems occur when the cards are not completely filled out or illegible. I have personally spent more time chasing down incomplete cards than compiling an entire set of race results. No doubt these discrepancies do not occur due to malice on the part of the runner, but the result is the same. Runners who have volunteered at finish lines realize how important it is for the competitor to cooperate by filling out that little card completely and as legibly as they can.
In conclusion, remember that a bit of cooperation can help produce better results and will make life easier for those working the finish line. And, add to your education by working that line sometime.