It’s true. Steeped in tradition, the Mt. SAC Cross Country Invitational, held at the Mt. San Antonio College campus in Walnut, Calif., had used various forms of manual timing in the 65 previous years of the race. In October 2013, however, race director Doug Todd decided it was time for a major change. With more than 800 teams, 25,000 runners, 149 races and eight different courses, the transition to radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip technology was long overdue.
RaceWire, a company that provides on-line registration and electronic timing services for races across the country, supplied the technology and two on-site technical assistants. Racewire (www.racewire.com) has offices in Orange, Calif., and Milton, Mass.
“The old system was very labor intensive and we needed a tremendous amount of personnel at the finish line,” explained Todd, who is the Director of Cross Country and Track and Field as well as a Professor of Kinesiology at Mt. SAC.
“Races go off every seven minutes and we’d have two or three races out on the course at one time. Add in the human factor and it’s very, very difficult to keep everything accurate.”
The solution was RaceWire’s disposable bib that included a timing chip. Times, finishes and team totals were electronically tabulated, making them instantly available to display screens, announcers and coaches during the three-day event (Oct. 18, 25-26).
“The disposable chip in the bib was a big factor in choosing RaceWire,” said Todd. “It makes things much easier. There’s nothing to collect and the distribution is much simpler. The bibs and other materials came all bundled up for us. That saved a lot of time, too.”
Many race directors are switching to electronic timing because it saves money and time while providing more accuracy and reducing stress. “Using the RFID chip, you get fast results and the system can handle hundreds of finishers every second,” said Ryan Henry, owner and co-founder of RaceWire. “In addition, the chip allows you to do pre-race wave sorting, which is important at large events.”
With a race the size of the Mt. SAC Invitational, all of those factors made for a smoothly-run and more enjoyable event. From this point forward, the Mt. SAC Invitational will be using electronic timing.
“It’s nice to be in the 21st century,” Todd said. “I was very happy with RaceWire. They did a wonderful job.”
For additional information about RaceWire, electronic timing or on-line registration, visit www.racewire.com, call 855-RACEWIRE or send an e-mail to email@example.com.