When prepping for a triathlon race, there are any number of things running through your head. Tell us if these don’t ring a bell. Did I bring my cycling shoes? Do I have my wetsuit and goggles? I know I packed my sports drink, right? But one of the things we don’t think about before our races is the timing system and all that goes into it. Most of us have raced in a triathlon with timing chips, but do we really know what goes on behind the scenes with timing? We’re here to explain a few of the differences.
The oldest and simplest method of timing a triathlon is simply starting a stopwatch at the beginning of the swim and stopping it at the end of the run. While this does give the overall time of the race. It proves to be much to difficult to manage during a standard triathlon with multiple waves of starts going off several minutes apart.
This is by far the most labor intensive method of calculating times for triathletes. This requires a small group of volunteers to be positioned at the swim exit, bike start, finish the bike, start the run and finish the triathlon. This method requires that volunteers have good eyes and make no mistakes. It’s a challenging way to time a triathlon for race directors and for the racers that want the most accurate time for their race.
The timing chip is the most technologically advanced method of timing a triathlon. Each athlete wears the timing chip around their ankle. At the beginning AND end of each portion of the race (Swim, T1, Bike, T2, Run) there are giant mats placed on the ground across which you run to trigger the timing chip. That data is immediately sent to the master computer at the triathlon. One of the best things about this method is that it enables triathletes to identify all of the areas in which they improved or need more work. Additionally, it allows racers to compare how they fared against friends and rivals in specific legs of the race.
Though you, as the racer, don’t need to worry with how the timing is actually executed for any given triathlon, we though it would be a great opportunity to for you learn a little bit more about the sport we all love. Speaking of learning, don’t forget to checkout our wildly popular triathlon training series DVDs. People from all over the world have been loving them. We’ve a free shipping deal going on right now!