Forget Excel, PDF - Use Race Tab

Borrowed from Colorado Track XC (written about a XC meet, but applicable to both XC and Track meets)

Dear MileSplit Community,

I have a couple of confessions to make.

First, I’m a track guy. I live and breathe the sport 365 days a year. I love all aspects of the season from practice to hosting meets. I especially like trying new things to improve my meets (although I’ll admit that I’m a basket case before every meet). I feel a little lost in the fall and winter.

Second, I’ve always been a wannabe computer geek without the smarts to be really good at it. My programming skills were average at best, and I bet Coach Versaw would have been frustrated with my math aptitude.

Now if you put those two things together, you have a person who loves Hy-Tek Meet Manager. I feel like I actually know computer programming when I manipulate the data in Hy-Tek. I absolutely love to use it to host meets and I’m continually amazed with the features that is has. My biggest complaint about the software is the monopoly that it has on the track and field community and the corresponding high cost for its features.

So this year when I was looking for a program to use to electronically score the University Break Your Pace Race, I automatically checked the prices for the cross country package and realized that my non-existent budget couldn’t afford it. All I knew was that I didn’t want to hand score the meet.

At that point I remembered that MileSplit had a free scoring program called RaceTab for track and field that I had fiddled with a little for small track meets in the past.  I didn’t know if it would work for cross country, but I downloaded the latest version of the software and began to play with it.

The user interface for the program was very simple and easy to understand. It had a cross country option so I created a meet with 4 divisions for our middle school and high school races. I then asked the participating schools to send me their rosters.

I decided to manually enter the rosters in the database to keep costs absolutely minimal. I entered a total of 419 athletes (2 on meet day) into the program. It was pretty easy and only took me a couple of hours. I was going to hand time the meet and manually put in the times until I discovered the built-in stopwatch function in RaceTab.

With the stopwatch feature I completely changed my plan for the meet. I decided to use two computers, one to time and one to score. I would then export the times into the scoring computer and theoretically have results within minutes of the last runner’s finish. It was exciting to think about!

On race day I brought over my two computers and set one up at the finish line and one at the end of the chute. RaceTab has a label feature so I printed out labels for each of the participants. It has a barcode function on the label maker but I didn’t use that since I didn’t have a barcode scanner. At the start we had a stopwatch with a ribbon going to mark the official time. We then took the watch back to the finish at started the clock on the computer.  The RaceTab stopwatch has a function where you can start the watch at a predetermined time. In this case we synchronized out watches at 3 minutes.

As soon as the boys started finishing the race I began entering their bib numbers into the computer.  At this point I made a mistake which required me to re-enter all of the bib’s again.  I will explain what I did and how to do it right so that you avoid my mistake (I told you I wasn’t very good with computers!).

I started adding the bib numbers directly onto the main screen. This was a mistake. You need to enter them under the Bib drop box on the menu. Choose the Edit Bib command and place the athletes in order of finish.  When you are done you the program imports the finish order into the race results.

Once the race was finished I exported the times from the stopwatch computer and put them on as usb flash drive. I then took the times and loaded them into the race on the other computer. You need to choose import from RaceTab timing session from the times drop tab. The times will then be placed next to the corresponding athletes.

All that was left was to score the meet by pushing the button on the right hand side and publish the results using the column format.  

All in all, I was very pleased with the ease and functionality of the RaceTab software. Even though I made a mistake and was forced to re-enter the bib numbers, I was still able to complete each race before the next one finished. Had I not messed up I’m sure that I could have had scored results within 2-3 minutes of the conclusion of each race.

If you are looking at using an easy, FREE scoring program for your cross country meet, I feel that RaceTab is the perfect solution. With RaceTab you no longer need to spend a lot of money hiring out your timing and/or purchasing expensive software packages.

I still don’t have very good computer skills and I’m sure that nobody wants my random palindrome (Able was I ere I saw Elba) generator that I made in my high school computer class. But now I feel very confident that I can score a cross country meet with the same aptitude that I tackle my track meets in the spring.

Now if I can only find a way to make it not be 98 degrees on race day…