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race timing solution

  1. race timing solution

    I use MS Excel 2000 to score bike races. We've been keeping track of
    riders times manually and entering the data adjacent to the finish
    order of each rider later, but I know there has to be some way of
    automating this process.

    My initial attempts have failed because I haven't figured out how to
    convert the dynamic =now() function into something that doesn't update
    itself every time the formula is refreshed.

    What I am looking to do is something like this:

    -Create some sort of starting time formula, the result of which
    does not change once entered.

    -Create another formula that automatically shows the elapsed time
    each time a rider finishes (i.e. each time a rider number is
    entered into a cell). This formula result would also not change
    once entered.

    Ideas? Flames?

    Thank you,

    David Gill


  2. Re: race timing solution

    Interesting idea. I'm sure that there are timing programs out there to
    do this type of thing. But if you are determined to roll your own, how
    about a few more parameters.

    How serious are errors? Laps to the wrong rider, etc. Is this rec
    stuff or do you really need it to be correct?

    How many bikes? Will effect the layout greatly.

    How fast do they cross the line? In groups? 1/second? 1/minute? How
    fast do you need to enter the data?

    Do they all start at once? Or do they start at different time?

    Are there multiple laps? Or only a start/finish?

    Are you familiar with VBA? Any programming language? Willing to
    learn?

    I think you are going to have to use VBA forms to do this type of
    thing. Maybe others have ideas on just using formulas.

    Good luck,
    Brian H.


  3. Re: race timing solution


    For running marathons we used to herd the finishers through gates and
    tear off a perforated tag on their number and stick them on a wire in
    order. At the finish people would be writing down runner's numbers against
    finish time as fast as they could but there were so many runners they
    could only write down times for some. In the data room we would assign times
    to the runners who had them written down and give the same time to every
    number on the wire between that one and the next one for which we had a time.

    Only the times for the first few runners were ciritical and there was no
    problem writing them down as they came in pretty much alone.


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  4. Re: race timing solution

    I've done some searching on the internet and found different software
    packages that cost anywhere from free to thousands of dollars. I
    haven't tried any of the software that you have to actually shell out
    money for (cheap bastard that I am). I'm sure the programs that cost
    money work well (or why would people buy them?), but the only free
    scoring software that I've actually used in a race (other than my own
    method) is something called "PMBC XCountry Timing Program," available
    for download from http://www.bikeschool.com/download/ (go to the bottom
    of the page).

    I tried to use this program at one of our races and had a hard time
    with it- it does work, but you have to put in a fair amount of time
    figuring out how to use it first. And then you can't make *any*
    mistakes when you enter in the rider numbers each lap. The first part
    (about learning how to use it) is standard with any scoring software
    that you might use, but the next part about not making any mistakes
    pretty much makes it useless.

    We have one guy standing next to the finish line and all he does is
    yell out rider numbers. I enter them into a laptop using an external
    usb numeric keypad. Then another guy writes the numbers down on paper
    (I think a backup is mandatory). It might also be good to have a
    fourth person who makes sure the guy calling out the numbers gets them
    all correct. It's possible to call out the numbers and write them
    down, but depending on field size it is really hard to be the only
    person scoring and having to figure out the numbers and input them into
    the computer. I think two people is the minimum, with one calling out
    the numbers *and* writing them down, and one person entering them into
    a computer.

    Here's what works for me: Microsoft Excel. I set up a spreadsheet with
    each lap represented by a column of numbers; when the leader comes
    through, start a new column. I like using Excel because you can
    recover from data entry errors relatively easily. This column method
    works well for scoring with pen and paper also.

    At the end of the race I have a column directly to the right of the
    last lap that represents the rider's finish order (not the rider's
    result, mind you, just the order across the line). The numbers in this
    column should be in numeric order, but they can also be the rider's
    time if you want. Then to the right of that column, I set up a formula
    that looks at the finishing rider's race number and determines how many
    times that number appears in the whole race.

    For example (say for an eight lap race with 17 finishers), what you end
    up with is a column that might read (and this is down the column) 8, 8,
    8, 7, 8, 6, 8, 7, 7, 8, 8, 7, 6, 8, 8, 6, 8. So now you have three
    critical columns; the last lap, the order across the line, and the
    number of laps for each rider. I then copy these three columns to
    another area of the spreadsheet and perform a sort first on number of
    laps, then order across the line. So all the riders that did all eight
    laps come out on top, then the riders one lap down, etc.

    This is an example with a very small number of riders; we have races
    where there are 150 people on the course with multiple wave starts,
    multiple laps, and sometimes the categories ride different numbers of
    laps within each start wave.

    We have a hand held electronic timer from which I copy the rider's
    times to the spreadsheet. Hopefully the number of times stored will
    equal the number of finishers. Here is another place where human
    errors screw up the results: what happens if the timer accidentally
    hits (or doesn't hit) the timer? Then all times are off from there on
    down.

    To answer the rest of your questions; they sometimes cross the line in
    groups of four or five, all within a couple of seconds (this isn't a
    road crit- we do cyclocross and mtb cross country). I need to enter
    the rider's number (and hopefully the time) each time a rider crosses
    the line.

    I'm not familiar with VBA but have had some programming experience with
    Pascal (college) and Basic (High School).

    Thanks again,

    David


  5. Re: race timing solution

    I'm familiar with this method but I believe it's possible (and
    preferable) to get a time for each rider. Granted, we have only 150
    riders or so to keep track of at a time, not the several hundreds (or
    even thousands?) that run marathons.


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