The different timekeeping solutions
Manual or automatic timekeeping, which one to choose ?
There are various ways to time your race, from the stopwatch to the GPS. Your choice depend on your budget but also on your flows of runners over the finish line. Here's a quick overview of the existing timing solutions to help you choose your own.
Low-cost solutions for few passages
Let's start with the most common manual timing techniques. A lot of solutions exists, more or less computerized, from barkers to excel programs and other ideas. They are certainly the ones that will cost you less, but they are also 100% the responsibility of the person in charge and we know that timing management can quickly become difficult when there are mass passages.
It also applies to the use of laser or barcode (which is a very short distance detection and individual). Limited in volume and capacity, this type of solution is recommended for races with few runners crossing the finish line at the same time.
Specific tools for use by unit
With automatic timing, more reliable, the investment is necessarily greater with a need for more accurate equipment. There are solutions well suited for small races and for mass events.
Among the existing solutions, there is the geolocation system (GPS). GPS is very precise and appreciated over long distances, but also the most expensive method. Because of its high cost, the GPS is more appropriate for use by unit, no mass timing.
More accurate and expensive, the photo finish or video on finish line is another popular timing tool. This is probably the most precise system, although it is not fully automated since it needs a person processing the information. It is for this reason that the photo finish is often used as an option, additionally to another timing system, as well as the GPS.
RFID, multipurpose technology
So what about RFID electronic timing ? It is the most commonly used technique. The multipurpose of the tool allows you to time races of all sizes. Easy to set up and use, it is a real time saver in terms of logistics and organization, besides the reliability of the system. Although less expensive than other solutions, electronic sports timing requires some investment in hardware.
The cost of the system depends on your needs and the size of your event. For a similar result, you will also have to choose between active and passive technology. Active tags are more expensive, they need to be recovered at the end of the race, making their use compromised for large events. This solution of passive electronic timing remains the most advantageous one for the majority of the races, except for those whose need to have highly precise results or those that do not have the budget yet.