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Pro Tip For Runners – Don’t Cover Your Bib Up When Racing

We interrupt our Open Championship Coverage for a running public service announcement: when racing, be careful not to cover up your bib, or it can mess up your timing chip!

It was the biggest race of the year: the Boilermaker, the de facto national championship of the 15K distance. 16,000 runners, including Olympians. Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, England, and over 20 more countries and nearly all 50 states were represented. The entire county turns out to volunteer and cheer and celebrate.

It’s Christmas in July.

You train hard all year, eat well, peak at the right time, and cross the finish line in your best time ever. A PR in the event! A PR in the distance! Breaking a time barrier you never broke before. Time to celebrate!

But then when you check the results, your name and bib number aren’t there…

What went wrong?! Did you miss a turn? Go the wrong way? Do something to get disqualified?

That’s exactly what happened to me…when it got too hot and I rolled my shirt up, covering my bib, it blocked the chip from sending the GPS signal to the timing device at the 10K mark.

In my case we saw my results at first – the online site for the timing company had them listed with splits and a final time of 78:59, but added the notation “projected.”

“That was weird,” I thought. “Projected? What are they waiting for, me to finish my margarita?”

But then an hour later when I checked again, they had vanished like a rabbit in a conjuring trick. My name, bib number, and results were all gone.

It took a week and five emails to sort out, but the good folks at the Boilermaker and Leone Timing got to the bottom of it quickly once the email got into the right hands. Here was the reply:

“We were able to find you on our backup video, a little faster than you indicated. 1:19:46 Gun, and 1:18:23 Chip (Net). I’ve updated the results so you can search and see your data.
From what I can tell from the video images is that since your shirt was flipped up with the bib inside, it must have prevented the timing tags on the bib from sending their signal to the systems at 10K split and at the Finish. So, just be careful about that in the future.”

So there it is! Be careful with your bib and chip. They are more fragile than you think! Now I can collect on all the prop bets I won! (More tequila and Lukin’s pizza.) Oh, and for the record 78:23 is a PR in the event, the distance, and my first time breaking 80. Now to do it at golf!