Setting up a staggered start

A staggered/interval start has long been common in several sports like cross country skiing and cycling (tempo events). In skiing, it was actually the norm up to 30 years ago. In other events like cross country running, it has been less common, but current demands for social distancing has lead to an increased interest in individual or group starts. This post will therefore give you some tips on how to run a staggered event. You can use it in both Photo and Video Finish, but these kinds of events are usually best handled in Video Finish.

In the start set up, you first choose a start sound for the manual start. In addition, you can also (SprintTimer v. 15.6 and later) choose to repeat the sound a number of times with a set interval. If you, for example, have 30 runners that will start with 10 s interval you should set Starts to 30 and Interval to 10. When you press the Start Clock button the start sound will be played for the first runner, and you will then get a sound every 10 s. This will continue until you reach 30 or you stop the recording. This means that you can continue to start runners even if the first ones are beginning to reach the finish and you have started the recording. The “MultiBeep” sound is useful here since it gives each competitor a count down before the start.

Marking the race
The staggered start setting only affects the sounds at the start, not the timing or the finish view. You, therefore, have to compensate for the later start of all but one of the competitors. This can be done in two ways: You can import a start list, mark the race and export the result like for a normal race. You then have to open the results in a spreadsheet and subtract a start time from all competitors.

Alternatively, you can import a start list where you have added a “start delay”, i.e. the time from the first start, to every competitor. This time will then be subtracted from the total time when you mark the race. This means that each competitor will have the correct time in the results list and when saving images. The start delay in seconds should be put at the end of each line when you create a start list CSV. For example (skiing legends):

#LFirst nameLast NameTeamDelay
1960SixtenJernbergSweden0
1964EeroMäntyrantaFinland30
1988GundeSvanSweden60
1998BjørnDæhlieNorway90

There is an example start list CSV that you can test. Note that the delays can only be imported through a CSV. It will be visible in the start list, but can’t be edited.

Random start
The set up described above requires some discipline, both from the competitors and the timing official. This can be challenging when handling small kids or not so motivated school classes. An alternative here is to use the video recording both for the start and the finish. This gives more flexibility, but also requires more work when marking the race.

Start the clock and start the recording before the start of the first competitor. Record when the competitors are starting and then again when they pass the finish line. You can pause the recording in between. When marking the race scroll to the start of the first competitor. Tap the time label to set it to zero (it should be yellow and show 0.0). Then scroll to where he is at the finish and read and mark the time. Then scroll back to the start of the second competitor. Tap the time to show absolute time then again to show a difference (yellow and 0.0). Scroll to the finish of the second competitor and mark.