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Good Times Outdoors

An electronic timing system for outdoor events

The funders view

“Mass participation” events as they are now called are important for the South Pennines for a wide variety of reasons. They showcase the beautiful landscape and challenging recreational opportunities that exist within the South Pennines, they provide spectator events which bring people into sport and health related activity and finally they enable local groups to fundraise for vitally needed resources whilst bringing in visitors to spend money in the local economy. This project therefore brings all these benefits and impacts over a wide geographical area. The enthusiasm and expertise of the project champion in delivering this project means that this equipment will be useful for groups for years to come.

Where is the project

The electronic timing device is stored at Manorlands Hospice in Oxenhope and can be set-up at almost any outdoor location.

The Project’s Story

Andrew Wood is bursting with enthusiasm: in a professional capacity he is fund-raiser for Sue Ryder Care Homes based at Manorlands in Oxenhope. During his spare time he supports Keighley and Craven Athletic Club, setting up races and fun-runs. Born to a local farming family he is actively involved in the Worth Valley Young Farmers club whilst also being a mine of local information and knowledge.

Whilst demonstrating the digital timing device designed to manage results at mass participation events he explains, “In the past we used the traditional hand-held timing devices, but these were unwieldy and had proved to be pretty unreliable. Collating results was difficult and slow, we often had tired and grumpy competitors leaving the event without even knowing their time or placing.”

He positively beams as he sets up the new equipment, “Although many of the events are just-for-fun, people almost always want to know their times, and if it really is a race we can be confident that our timings are accurate.”

The timing device uses individually numbered electronic tags which can be attached to a competitor’s shoe, wrist or bicycle. The tag triggers an electronic timer as the competitor steps on or cycles over large sturdy start and finish mats, and it has the capacity to manage multiple, simultaneous finishes.

Andrew continues, “There is the safety aspect too, we can check our competitors as they come home, and pin point any stragglers or missing links.”

Times are logged on a laptop and can be printed off to give competitors their individual or group times, their overall placing or their placing in certain categories.

Andrew confides, ”The software is pretty complicated, and yes there have been a few teething problems. Initially we had to spend a bit of time perfecting our techniques although the more we use it the more familiar it becomes.”

The kit has been out and about at a range of cycling and running events aimed right across the board of athletic interests and abilities, the events have been many and varied: a combination of fundraising and local participation, encouraging healthy communities and family involvement;

  • The Keighley BigK is a fundraising, fun-run for families and newcomers with upwards of 600 people taking part
  • The Yorkshireman, a full 26 miles of tough-terrain is aimed at the more dedicated competitor and is more of a niche market!
  • The Dawn to Dusk100 cycle ride allows riders to choose between a couple of routes from Leeds to York and back to Leeds again. There is the long way – which is 100kms or the even longer way – which is 100 miles. That one was certainly not for the faint-hearted.
  • A popular event, part of the South Pennine Walk and Ride Festival, is the Bronte Mountain Bike Challenge, with three routes, the Anne, the Emily and the Charlotte, the length of the name indicating the length of the route, an effective way to cater across the range of abilities and ages.

Andrew continued, “We are really keen for this system to be used much more, we are happy to lend it out to other organisations, once you get the hang of it, it is reasonably easy to use, although we do need to train more people to become experts!”

This equipment is an efficient and effective piece of kit, competitors have enjoyed the speed with which it can produce accurate results and it has enhanced the experience of participation for competitors. To make it doesn’t spend more time than is necessary in a cupboard, Andrew is in the process of developing an ‘Idiots Guide’ and is currently training a colleague to become a timing-expert’.

The Project’s Vital statistics

Population benefitting
At least 1,500 people each year

Businesses benefitting
CTC Cycle Touring Club
Keighley and Craven Athletic Club
Sue Ryder

Villages supported
This is difficult to define as it depends on who hires the equipment, but to date 9 places have directly benefitted;
Keighley, Oakworth, Oxenhope, Stanbury, Trawden, Haggate, Harle Syke, Worsthorne, Wycoller

Other sources of funding
Matched funding from Sport England

Better training and better publicity to other potential users will help the project become sustainable into the future.