5 Tips for Successful Race Timing

If you organize participatory sports events, you’ve probably hired a timing company.  Most timing companies such as ours, Classic Race Management, offer a wide variety of services depending on your needs, from bare bones timing to full-service event management.  Regardless of your level of engagement, here are five steps you can take to ensure a smooth and productive relationship with your timers.

  1. Hire your timing company in advance of your event. Many are booked with races all year round; Classic, for example, times about 85 events annually. Considering there are about 52 weekends per year, this means that during most weekends, we time multiple events.
  2. Coordinate with your timing company to set up online event registration early and accurately. We have worked with SignMeUp for 10 years and know the system inside and out; however, different timing companies have different data requirements. Make sure you know the data you need to collect and provide so that your event can be scored.
  3. Have a social network presence. Social networks allow you to communicate with your registrants and to answer questions before and after the event.
  4. Recruit enough volunteers, and provide them with thorough training and incentives. Happy and helpful volunteers are critical to proper course management and a successful event.
  5. Learn to handle adversity. Race day problems (weather, course, t-shirts, etc.) are virtually inevitable. Deal with them calmly and maintain communication with your timer and other vendors so that the groups can all work together collectively to produce the best event possible despite the unexpected conditions.


About 15 years ago, pre-chip timing, we were scoring an event where the lead police car went the wrong way on the course.  It headed south toward the finish instead of north as was originally planned. We quickly gathered about 20 volunteers and turned the whole finish line area around. Two minutes before the first finisher was to arrive, the driver took another turn to correct his original error.  We had to rotate the finish line again!  At the time we had no idea how this affected course distance, but all participants received their results and had a great day.

Your timing company likely has worked with many events like yours over the years and will have many recommendations for you.  Partner with them to build your event. It will be a win-win situation for both of you.

Do you have any anecdotes or additions to the list?  Share them here!


Jeff Peterson is a principal of Classic Race Management, which was established in 1987 and times participatory sports events throughout western Michigan and northern Indiana.

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