
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

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.

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.


William R Watt National Capital FreeNet Ottawa's free community network
homepage: www.ncf.ca/~ag384/top.htm
warning: nonFreeNet email must have "notspam" in subject or it's returned

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

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.