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In most organized running and walking events, the results are displayed in an overall listing (first finisher’s time, 2nd finisher’s time, etc.) and an age group listing (Overall, Masters and typically 5 year age groups).  This allows a participant to know where he or she placed in the entire field of participants as well as in their age group and gender.

The age group results are also typically used for calculating the awards.  This is where things can get interesting.  There are three different options throughout the race timing industry for calculating awards and age group results but before I explain these, let me review the difference between “gun” time and “net” time.

“Gun” time is calculated from the time the race starts (in Running Zone’s case when the air horn blows) until you cross the finish line.  If you are in the back of the start corral, your gun time starts as soon as the race begins so if “net” results are not also calculated, you are being penalized for being further back in the start corral.

“Net” time is calculated from the time you cross the start mat (and your chip or tag reads) until you cross the finish line.  This allows for participants to line up according to his or her pace and your “net” time doesn’t start until crossing the start mat.

There are basically three options for timers and race directors to choose from when calculating awards for an event.

  1. All awards and results are based on “gun” time. The “net” time may be displayed in the results but they are only for informational purposes.
  1. All awards and results are based on “net” time.
  1. Hybrid method – Overall awards are based on “gun” time and masters and age group results are based on “net” time.

For Running Zone managed and timed events, we use # 3 above, the hybrid method.  Here is our reasoning.  If a participant thinks he or she is going to be one of the top finishers, he or she is usually at the front of the start corral.  He or she also knows who they are competing against as others that are thinking the same way are at the front of the start corral too.  This is a competitive race and you typically know who you are racing against.  When it comes to masters and age groups, it is more difficult to know who your competition is in the race, so the “net” time makes more sense for calculating awards and results.

To summarize, Running Zone’s awards are calculated as follows:

Overall Awards                 Gun time
Masters Awards               Net time
Age Group Awards          Net time

The “gun” method is probably the more commonly still used within the industry.  There are still a lot of races that are manually timed and only an electronic timing system can produce “net” times.  There really is no right or wrong method, but the key is to communicate what the method is before the race in case you think you may win an award, overall, masters or age group.

I hope this wasn’t too detailed but hopefully, you have a better understanding our how our timing and awards calculation works and the difference between a “gun” versus “net” time.   Any questions, let us know.