Every year, we are treated to various State of the xx; union, industry, state. etc. Since everyone else is doing it, I decided to produce my own. Hopefully you will find this useful and possibly enlightening.
I have been producing and timing events since the late 90s and a have seen a lot of changes. It has been a fascinating transformation over the years and we have certainly come a long way. So where are we today in the road race industry? What is constant, what is new, and what is going away?
I think we can say with certainty that more and more races are moving to chip timing and away from manual or hand timing. This is a good thing for everyone. Manual timing while easy to do, was certainly fraught with issues. Chip timing has made it much easier for timing companies to produce results and has made it more efficient in getting results posted. Many may remember the day when it might take several hours after a race before results could be posted. This was especially true when using popsicle sticks or index cards. Those were the days. Some races still exist doing it the old ways, but they are rapidly going away.
Regarding chip timing, more and more events are moving toward disposable chips attached to a bib. When we first entered the market with our disposable bib chip, we were the only game in town. It was a boon to the average runner. No longer did a runner have to experience the inconvenience of raceday pickup of their chip, attach it to their shoe and then have to stop at the finish line to have it removed. Chips could now be attached to the bib and distributed along with the bib at packet pickup. Once picked up, that was all the runner had to do. There is certainly systems where a runner can remove a disposable chip from the bib and attach to their shoe, but that is still a major inconvenience for the participant. Bib chips are easy for everyone to use and require no more effort than placing the bib on the participant. There is a caveat in that the bib needs to be worn on the front of the body, but this should be done anyway so that the photographers can identify the participant. There are new systems coming out all of the time using bib chips, but our systems always stay ahead of the competition.
Another area of innovation has been in online registration. Online registration has been available for many years but the offerings were extremely limited and the services offered were weak. Take a look at modern day registration platforms, and while accomplishing the required task of taking a payment and collecting data, there is a lot more going on now. Confirmation emails, notifications, refunds, transfers, are all but a small set of the many options now available.
Internet technology itself has transformed the business in many ways. It used to be that a race director had to pull their data into a spreadsheet and then manipulate it before printing to a roster for packet pickup. With the advent of the internet and modern tools, race directors can now perform most functions online wherever they happen to be. I still see many timing companies using older computer applications and having to transfer the data around. I also know race directors that still do everything with spreadsheets. It works but is certainly not very efficient. Tools exist today to make it much simpler for everyone. The internet has also made it possible for participants to get their results faster. When was the last time you remember having to wait several days before you could get results online. I've seen some timers that still do that but fortunately for the participant, most are better at that. We post immediately after the race because we know how important it is to you.
At Athlete Guild, we are constantly examining the state of tools and resources available to make the experience better for the race director, participant, event planner, etc. Please give us a call to help you raise your event to the next level.
See you at the race!