Knoxville Marathon Weekend and MyLaps BibTag

As I am writing this, I am on the way to Atlanta. I am riding while Eric drives. It was a great weekend of racing, with Geoffrey Kiprotich of Atlanta winning the men’s race and local Kathy Wolski of Knoxville winning the women’s race. Jason Atlman and the Knoxville Track club know how to put on a great event. The weather on Saturday was beautiful, but by race time, it had started to drizzle. The rain held off for about four hours, and then the skies opened. There was one point where lightning arrived and we had to leave the 50 yard line of Neyland Stadium and seek shelter in the stadium tunnels. It seems not matter how good your rain gear is, you still end up getting soaking wet. Toward the end of the day Eric was complaining that he had forgot his waterproof underwear.

This weekend was our inaugural venture using our new MyLaps BibTag system. I have to say that I am impressed with the way it performed. We were able to pack 7 systems, associated mats and our luggage into a rented Rav4. We were especially impressed with the system given the rain and lightning. After about the four hour mark, all the racers were soaked to the skin and many of them had jackets or shirts over their numbers. We were a bit concerned about this, because we had heard this could be problematic. It turned out not to be the case at all. We set out eight timing points and captured over 17,000 times. At one point, it was raining so hard the mats at the 13 mile point became submerged and they kept on reading. From what I can gather, we missed reads for only two racers. This was due to a volunteer telling the two racers to tear the BibTag off the bib and tie in their shoe. Tearing the BibTag off the bib damaged the BibTag so it did not work.

We did find some things we didn’t like about the system. Just a caveat here, we used demo systems, and the MyLaps folks said some things may be different in the production versions. Most of these things we didn’t like are more in the category of cool engineering not really working out for the user. For example, the power cords have an plug I have never seen before. Why not use the standard computer power plug you see on the back of all the computers in the world? It will not be a matter of if, but when we loose one, we can go to your local office supply store and pick one up instead of ordering one from Holland.

We did have some production mats and the connections to these mats were difficult to manage. There was not much room at the mat connection to maneuver and the connectors themselves were pretty tight. With cold, wet and fat fingers, it is at least twice as hard. Finally, Toolkit is a vast improvement over the old ChampionChip connection tools, but for those of us who are Macintosh users, it adds a significant layer of complexity, and another computer. I understand many of the reasons behind having to use proprietary software to communicate with the timing points, but can we get some software libraries so we can integrate them into our software?

One final word of caution. If you have race day, or expo registration, be careful doing data entry. Summer’s mom will definitely call you on it when you replace the S with a D.

2010 Race Timing Season is underway

Today was officially the first race of the 2010 racing season. We had a great time at the Icebreaker Tri. A very well run race by the Timp Tri Club with a great turnout. And Icebreaker is right. There was frost on the grass in the transition area and, adding a new meaning to the word icebreaker, the blue stuff in the port-a-potties was frozen… When the sun came over the mountains, it warmed up and was just a beautiful first day on spring in Utah. It was reunion of sorts, of many of the big triathlon race directors in Utah. I say Chris from TriUtah, Travis from RaceTri and Travis from the Hess Cancer Foundation.

This is going to be an exciting year. Perhaps the biggest news is our acquisition of a MyLaps BibTag system. You may recall AMB bought ChampionChip and rebranded themselves to MyLaps Sports Timing. Well, what’s cool about this new system is that it is a chip in the bib system and is entirely disposable. What that means to race directors is no more lines waiting for chip assignment, but better yet, no chip collection. We are truly excited about it. Since the chip attaches to the bib, it will be a great system to use at running races.