Chip v. Standard Timing: What is Best for Your Race?
Updated: Dec 25, 2019
One of the most frequent questions we receive (especially from brand new races) is whether we recommend chip or standard timing. As some of you know “chip timing“ is where an RFID chip (RFID is an acronym for “radio-frequency identification” ) is affixed to the back of the runner’s race bib, which is then detected by an antenna embedded in either the finish line mat and/or an antenna placed right next to the finish line. There are many excellent chip systems out on the market today including Chronotrack, My-Laps, Ipico and Trident. We use an IPICO system.
When a race is “standard timed” there are many different techniques a timer can use to capture finish times. This can be done via a simple stopwatch, a “paddle timer”, a “time machine” (a device with a plunger and keyboard) as well as a variety of other timing devices. As runners pass across the finish line times and bib numbers are manually recorded and then entered into the timer’s software.
For smaller races (under about 125 runners) there is a not much of difference in the time it takes us to produce results, regardless of whether the race is chip or standard timed. Standard timed races are also less expensive.
However, once you reach about 125 runners (assuming its a 5k) it can get pretty hectic at the finish line and chip timing is definitely the way to go. The advantage of chip timing is that the antennas can detect multiple people crossing the finish line at the same time, which is a very common occurrence in larger races. Capturing multiple finishers at the same time when standard timing a race is much harder to do. You also can run into problems in standard timed race when runners cross the finish line more than once. This actually happens all the time, usually when a family member who has already finished the race decides to run in and “pace” a slower sibling or parent across the finish line. The chip timing software will disregard the repeat runner when they cross the finish line a second time.
Upon request we can provide an option in our quotes allowing you to switch from chip timing to standard timing if your race registrations fall below a certain level. This is often a concern for brand new races that might not know what numbers to expect. Our goal is to help you maximize your race revenue by not locking you into a specific (and more costly) timing method.
If you’re interested in learning more about the cost of chip timing vs. standard timing and which might be best for your event (as well as anything else about our services) please give us a call or send us a quick email. We would love to speak to you!!