BIG FINISH Billings company fills a need for timed athletic events (Billings Gazette)Back when the late Jim Fixx ignited a nationwide fitness boom with his best seller, “The Complete Book of Running,” participants in popular running events sometimes waited hours after a race for results to be posted.
In those days, times and place rankings for each age group were compiled by hand.
“It was kind of old-school and labor intensive,” said Karen Sanford Gall, executive director of the Big Sky State Games. “There were a lot of moving parts.”
But modern timing technology has eliminated much of the drudgery on race day, and life is easier for race administrators.
Athletes usually register online. Each participant wears an inexpensive computer chip attached to their bib number, or on a leg strap, and the athlete’s time is recorded automatically as he or she crosses the finish line. Results are often posted just minutes after the race.
“We save race directors a lot of grief,” said Stephanie Kirkpatrick, project manager for Montana Timing, a Billings company that provides timing services for a variety of athletic events, including the State Games.
Sanford Gall welcomes the convenience and reliability of modern timing systems.
“There’s a lot more ease and more assurance that everybody is accounted for,” she said. In one of the more popular events of the State Games, a 5-kilometer race, the timing system identifies each runner as they enter Daylis Stadium. That allows names to be announced over the PA system as they enter the crowded stadium and head toward the finish line.