There's been a lot of questions about the new timing system being used that the New Belgium Short Track races this season. YGR rounded up as many of those questions as possible and fired them at the Ciclismo Youth Foundation crew. Here's what they had to say:
What prompted the purchase of the system? You did purchase it correct, it’s not rented or anything? We’ve tried numerous methods for registration/timing over the years and none of them have ever produced consistent results. When we began hosting races eight years ago registration was super simple and scoring didn’t matter much to the twenty or so racers.
Today we have 150 adult racers & 60 little kid racers at each event. Getting everyone through registration in a timely manner is sometimes difficult...and then hand scoring all those riders isn’t easy, nor consistent. CYF began to stress over this area of our races and it became more of an issue as we chatted with our race day volunteers. They were getting stressed.
In an effort to reduce the stress among all race day participants (volunteers, racers and spectators) we felt we needed to better systematize registration/timing. A few months ago we purchased our own timing system. We look at it as an investment in our race series, in our volunteers and in our racers.
How much did it cost? The system cost approximately $6,500. We also pay a per participant fee for online registration / race results.
Who makes it, where is it from? The meat of the system (mats, timing box, chips) is from IPICO Sports. While the software (on-line race registration, timing software, race results, etc.) is from Lapio, who is an all-in-one race management and timing software company.
What all does the system entail? All racer info captured in the online registration process is housed in our race management software. At the race, all paying riders receive a timing chip which they attach to their shoe. As they cross the timing mats(antennas), the system reads their chips and synchronizes their info (lap count, lap time, position, etc.) into the race management software. If adjustments/corrections need to be made on the fly, we can easily do that. Results stream live.
Why was this system better than a camera system? Simply because it’s easier. Although there’s race management to be done prior to the event, the race day experience (from our standpoint) is much less involved.
What are some of the cool features of the system? Streaming live results is pretty cool for a local Tuesday night race series.
How well is it working so far? So far it’s been great. Pushing on-line registration has been a huge time saver and reduced the stress of race day volunteers. Timing the races has produced results like we’ve never been able to produce in the past…..with a fraction of the work involved. However, we’ve had a few situations where chips weren’t being read by the reader correctly. It was likely due to the placement of the timing mats and/or the placement of the chip on the rider. We’re learning as we go.
Has the early registration requirement had a negative effect on race participation? Honestly, I was a bit worried about this, but thus far we haven’t had any negative effects on participation. It saves us so much time not having to deal with all the normal registration stuff (payment, waiver, capturing rider info) at the race. Long gone are the days of long registration lines and misspelled rider names. You’d be surprised how many complaints I heard over the years about misspelled names!
I’ve heard of a few people having to stop to pick up their chips when they fall off during races. Is there a way to secure them better. I’ve heard that as well. Not sure the absolute best way, so we’re very open to suggestions. For the majority, attaching the chips to their shoe via zip tie works well. Thus far we’ve fit the chips with one zip tie for riders to loop their shoe buckle through. Maybe two zip ties is better. We were thinking about ways to avoid having to use new zip ties at every race.
Are the riders responsible if a chip gets lost during a race? Yes, riders are responsible for the return of their chips. We purchased reusable chips so we can reprogram them each week. It was more cost effective to go that route. The cost to the rider for not returning or losing their timing chip is $30
Why is online preregistration so important? Again, online pre-registration has to do with reducing the stress of volunteers/racers come race day. Once registration is closed, all the chips have to be scanned and uploaded into the software to match the list or registered riders. Then packets (bibs/chips) have to be organized.
There are a lot of people who literally don’t know if they will be able to make it to the races, even an hour or two before the start, is there a chance online registration will start to remain open later on race day? Since there is work we have to do between the close of registration and when the person arrives at the registration table, online registration will not likely stay open up till the races begin. And in reality, online registration will likely always close hours before the races begin. I say that because in addition to needing to scan chips/organize bibs, volunteers arrive at the races at least two hours before they begin. Once I get to the race site, I don’t have time to continue registering riders. How about late registration fees for people want to register on site? Good question. Being a financial planner, I’m not one to turn away money, which is why we offered onsite registration the first week. However, moving forward, we are currently not going to offer onsite registration. We’ve made the online registration process so simple that anyone can do it.
Remember, CYF is a tax-exempt non-profit getting kids on bikes. We aren’t a race management company, nor do we claim to be pro race organizers. We are out there to provide a quality, fun, low key race experience, while raising money for the foundation. If there are ways we can better systematize our process, thus allowing us more time to help kids and/or an easier way to raise money, we’re all for it. The move to a timing system/online registration is a big move in that direction