Hand-Timed Meets

Last season, I started appropriately factoring in FAT conversions for Hand-Timed Meets in compiling the Best Performance Listings. In the interest of time and my sanity, I only convert the 100, 200, 100 HH, and 110 HH. These are the events in which that conversion has the most impact.

I am aware that some people do not understand the conversion or the need for them, so I'll do a brief discussion on that topic. The reason for the conversion is that Hand Timing does not yield an accurate time in comparison to Fully Automated Timing (i.e. Finish Lynx). In Hand Timing, a person has to manually start the timer. Whether it's 8 people starting 8 different watches, or one person starting a split-8 timer, it's still a hand-time and has to be converted.

The conversion works something like this:
Joe runs the 100 Meter Dash.
The timer has Joe at 11.31 on his stopwatch.
When Hand Timing all times round up, so Joe's time should be correctly reported as 11.4
To convert Joe's time to FAT, 0.24 is now added to that time, making Joe's FAT Equivalent 11.64.

The 0.24 timing amount was the result of studies done several years ago. I'll not go into great detail on that.

There are many athletes and parents (and even some coaches) who don't properly understand Hand-Timing vs. Fully Automated Timing. I hear comments all the time like "I hate running at Charleston. My times are always slower." Or even worse "We're running in Charleston this weekend...that's where they add time to your time." The difference is that at tracks utilizing Fully Automated Timing, you're actually getting an accurate time. In hand-timed meets, you time is improved by however slow the person timing reacts to the starters pistol (click the watch when you see smoke, but there's still a reaction time).

Unfortunately, the hand-timing in some meets leaves a lot to be desired. If everyone in a heat of the 100 Meter Dash runs their best time of the year by 0.5 seconds, you probably had a bad timer. I do reserve the right to toss out times that I do not believe to be accurate. I did that several times last year. If you have a hand-timed 200 of 26.4 seconds, but the best you can do when you're on a Fully Automated Timing track is 27.42, then it's pretty obvious that you didn't really run 26.4. I've also seen meets where they stopped the 3200 after 7 laps. When your series of 3200 times is 14:20, 14:15, 14:10, and 12:34, then it's pretty obvious that your race was shortened a lap.