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Latest timing systems for mass events are based on UHF RFID technology, which allows automatic identification of athletes along with time tracking.

More and more people are spending their free time in an active way. One form of activity whose popularity is growing year by year is running. Once we get over the initial difficulties and running enters our blood, participation in running competitions becomes an excellent opportunity to test ourselves and compete in a friendly way, which is why more and more running events are being organized.

Only in Poland, where we're based, several thousand events of various kinds are held annually, ranging from small runs with a few hundred competitors to marathons with several thousand participants. Every competitor taking part in an event expects that the organizer of the event, after its completion, will fairly efficiently present the results obtained and the classification. Older, but still in use, timing systems are based on:

  • manual timing with a stopwatch: one person reads the time, the other manually enters the results into a list;
  • reading athletes with a barcode scanner: an athlete is assigned a barcode, and the person with the scanner, through successive, individual barcode readings, creates a list of athletes running into the finish line;
  • photocells and photofinishers: require manual processing to identify athletes.

Meanwhile, the latest timing systems for mass events are based on UHF RFID technology, which allows automatic identification of athletes equipped with an RFID tag, e.g. pasted into the starting number, or in the form of a shoe band. It is possible to read several hundred tags per second without the involvement of the human factor. The tag is read by means of a measuring case with an RFID reader and antennas (set on stands on the sides of the start/finish line or built into mats, to be spread on the ground). Along with the radio identification of the athlete, the time is assigned. Specialized software interprets the data presenting the results immediately. Electronic time measurement carried out in this way is now an industry standard.

Gepard is an example RFID time–tracking system using passive tags.

Gepard (pl. cheetah)

Gepard has been successfully used at more than 500 official sporting events, not only running events, but also cycling, triathlon, cross–country skiing, auto racing, equestrian events; it is also used during training. Gepard is currently used by dozens of different entities in Poland. These include companies providing timing services, sports clubs and sports centers.

It is recommended to use passive RFID tags with the Gepard system in the form of:

  • labels that can be attached to the starting number or to a band placed on the shoe;
  • encapsulated tags attached to the ankle using a neoprene band.

Gepard is produced by RFID Solutions and is offered in two configurations: a mat option and a side antenna option.