How to Timekeep

Guide to Timekeeping at Club Events

Based on a manuscript by Kevin Scully


This guide assumes that riders have signed-in, any entry fees have been collected, numbers have been distributed, the first rider is (should be) at the start line, and the timekeepers are all at the start line.

Synchronize stopwatches

At this stage, the pusher-off should not be holding the first rider up.

To synchronize stopwatches, hold one in each hand with fingers ready to start them (usually the right-hand button). Count down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and start the watches. Check that they are running in unison: not just seconds but tenths too. If they are not, start again. When you are happy that they are running in unison, leave all stopwatch buttons well alone.

The first rider will be set off at minute 1, second rider at minute 2, etc. If the finish line is far away from the start line, or if the first rider is expected to finish before you can get there, one stopwatch should be taken to the finish by the clerk.

Set off the riders

The first rider will start when the stopwatch reads 1 minute. Ask the pusher-off to hold the first rider up when the stopwatch reads 30 seconds. Count down 30 seconds, 15 seconds, 10 seconds, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and then go. Repeat at one minute intervals until all riders have been set off.

Settle down at the finish

Make your way to the finish line, taking great care not to disturb the watches. Ensure that the finish line is clearly marked (e.g. with a chequerboard), and sit yourself down (e.g. in a car). Check that your eyes are in line with the chequerboard, and that you can see the stopwatches clearly.

Time in the riders

Fill in clerking sheets, as in the following example.

As each minute ticks by, fill in the RECORDED TIME Mins column. As a rider approaches, count in their seconds 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, until the finish line is crossed. Fill in the RECORDED TIME Secs column accordingly. Get the rider's number from the number caller and write it in the RIDERS NUMBER column on the same row as the corresponding recorded time. When there are no riders approaching, calculate the rider's actual race time by subtracting the rider's number from the minutes of the recorded time. Write this actual race time in the ACTUAL TIME column on the same row as the corresponding recorded time.

Concentration is critical while timekeeping: there are no second chances to get times and numbers. If anyone does anything that distracts you, tell them in no uncertain terms to go away until the event is completed. It's a lot easier if you know riders' faces, but even so concentration is needed.

Check the times and transfer to results sheet

Get the clerk or another official to check the times and your calculations. When these have been approved, transfer them to the results sheet. Ensure that the required number of carbon copies are made. Finally, take the results to the eager and appreciative riders.