Get the most out of race timing

by Colin Hackman from Go Time, Race timing

Race timing is a big part of your race budget. It’s also a huge part of the way people perceive your race. If the timing is handled efficiently and accurately, paddlers will walk away feeling like they had a wonderful experience. If there are issues–before, during, or after the race, especially during awards, participants can have a sour taste in their mouths. That can effect whether they come back to your event again.

It’s Go Time times events from 50 people to 7,000 people and assist with registration, logistics, and promotion. Here are some of their best tips for making sure timing runs smoothly and effectively.

Meet to Determine Responsibilities

Go Time handles everything for races–if that’s what the clients need. We can also just time the race and provide results. Establish responsibilities early on.


  • Who will handle online registration.
  • Who will handle in-person registration during check in.
  • What reports are needed as racers are finishing.
  • How the results will be posted for review.
  • What the process is for result disputes, and who/how those are handled.
  • How the results need to be given to the Race Director for award ceremony purposes.
  • Where the results will be posted online.
  • What types of reports are needed at the close of the event.

Meet in person, on the phone, or via email, but make sure those bases are covered.

Start with Clean Data

Crap in = Crap out. The number one factor in your race timing success is to provide the timing company with clean data. Make sure that age classes, board classes, gender classes are clearly defined during registration. Have a plan in place with the people who check paddlers in onsite to verify information to ensure that, before the gun goes off, all of the race numbers correspond to the correct classifications.

We require racers to check their bibs for confirmation before leaving the check in table.

Seat a drop-dead time for changes and make sure that it is clearly posted and all racers know when they need to have any changes in.

Provide a Plan to Handle Disputes

After results are posted, racers will check and make sure whether their times seem to be correct and they’re in the right spot in relation to other paddlers. Have a plan in place for dealing with any discrepancies between the data and the paddler perception.

Dispute doesn’t have to have a negative connotation. You can use the word “correction,” as well. Basically, the Race Director and Timing Company need to do what they can to ensure that all of the results are correct before moving to awards. Sometimes it is as easy as switching a board class for someone. Sometimes it requires gathering eyewitnesses. Whatever you plan is, make sure you hash it out in advance and everyone is on the same page.

Note from the publisher: This is not a sponsored post, but was submitted by someone who advertises on the Mullet. We’ve used Colin and he’s dead on when it comes to timing. We thought this would be valuable to everyone and aren’t posting it just because someone paid us to. This is good stuff.