Random Thoughts

SCSE Blog or better know as random thoughts

We get asked all kinds of questions and every so often even have a random thought that is meaningful, so if you have a few minutes of time to waste, read on.  Have a random thought, question, comment or concern?  Lets us know at info@silvercirclesportsevents.com

What’s a Pop Up Run?

I have been working on this for about a year now.  It is hard to believe, with over 100 events in 2018 there are weekends that we don’t have a race. What is a race director to do?  A pop up run!

A pop up run is a run that is planned with a very short lead time.  Our first one was planned and permitted in one day – it helps to have a great relationship with municipalities. 

The event is super simple.  Since we are also timers, we will chip time the event but no shirts, medals, fancy finish lines, aid stations, portos, PA systems, stages, fresh fruit bars or hot chocolate.  Just a run course with chip timing.

Our first one is January 20th. We have priced it at $10 to cover expenses and encourage you to come out and run in the winter.

If the first race goes well, expect to see other pop up runs throughout the year. 


Switching Distances?  It a big deal (sorta).

It’s a big deal.  Like, for real it’s a big deal.  Alright it isn’t like birth, death or taxes but it affects more people than just you.

Hey RD dork, what are you talking about?

At our events, we let people change their distance anytime they want.  Even during the race.  However, with that flexibility comes a tiny bit of responsibility on your behalf. That responsibility is to let us know you did it.

Hey, why do you care?

Well the truth is we don’t but just about every other runner cares.  If you change your distance and don’t tell us, the computer just thinks you’re really fast or really slow.  We generally will pick this up and move you but not always.

Hey, so what?

Well, it affects results.  If you drop from a 10K to a 5K and then run a 50 minute 5K, we just think you are a fast 10K runner.  In reality, you were having an off day and had a longer than normal 5K. Hey it happens.

Again, so what?

When we go to print results, you will show up in the 10K and likely in age group awards.  When the dudette with the mic calls your name, you just ignore it because you don’t want to admit in front of 500 people that you really didn’t run the 10K and messed up the results for everyone in your age group and potentially for the entire 10K.

Ok, I get it. I promise I won’t do it again.

Hold on Buckaroo. There are more problems coming down the pipe.  Since you didn’t tell anyone, the person who should have received that medal didn’t.  At some point, someone will figure this out from the online pictures or video and likely make a big deal of it on social media.  Maybe even claim the timer is an idiot, you are a horrible person and the world is going to end.

Ok enough already, I get it.

Oh but there is more.  Since many of our races are part of a series, you just might have caused someone not to get points for the series.  Many of our series and very competitive and one point would make a difference.

Are you done yet?

I guess.   The truth is…. it isn’t really that big of a deal.  Do us a favor and all your fellow runners a favor, just let us know if you switch distances.  Easy peasy, isn't being a race director easy?


Come on dude, get my name correct.

Announcers are like timers.  You don’t notice them until they mess up.  Announcing, like timing, is one of the more difficult things to do at a race and one of the most underappreciated tasks.

As a side note, most announcers are hired for the event.  Not at most of our wingdings.  

A good announcer really doesn’t make a big different in a race.  Don’t believe me?  When was the last time you posted on Facetwitchatgram how great the announcer was at the Gobble Wobble run on Thanksgiving Day in Milwaukee or Oconomowoc?  However, when was the last time you were at a high school football game and you said, man that announcer is awful? 

Announcing is a very, very, very difficult task. 

First, you need the gumption to stand in front of hundreds, if not thousands, of people and run your gums.  Not hard?  Remember the first speech you gave in high school speech 101?  Some of you just got a chill down your spin. 

Second, you need the personality and ability to speak.  Not hard?  Remember middle school speech where all the kids read off an index card in a monotone voice without every looking up? 

Third, you need confidence, ability to think of your feet and authority?  Yes authority!  If you don’t, your audience will eat you alive.  Don’t believe me?  Ever been to an event where the speaker gets flustered by the audience?  It goes south very quickly.  There is a reason why we only have one rule during awards and if you have ever been to our events you know what it is.

Fourth, it’s way more work than you think.  There are prerace announcements, special announcements and awards.  There are announcements for people who lost their keys, lost their kid or forgot to fill out the race day registration form completely and the timer is freaking out because she doesn’t know what gender category to put you in and there is a 50/50 chance she puts you in the wrong one and doing so will mess us the age group awards and you will yell at the announcer that he got the awards wrong because it is the announcers fault that the timer had to guess your gender because you didn’t fill out the registration form completely and now you are reading this amazingly long run-on sentence.

Finally, age group awards. This is the most difficult thing to announce.  A race with 5K, 10K & ½ marathon will have 270 age group awards.  Imagine standing in front of hundreds of people, holding a long list of names that you have never read before and having to announce them one by one.  If you go to fast, the medals handerouter and the photo dudette get backed up.  Go to slow and you’ll be standing there until the cows come home.

Don’t believe me?  The next time you are at a SCSE race, asked the announcer if you can do age group awards.  Look for the guy with the microphone in his face.  That will be me.

Have a question or want to know why something happens the way it does?  Shoot us an email and we will do our best to write about it.


How to design a course?

  1. Map it out.
  2. Get a permit.
  3. Hold the event.

Simple! If you go to the USATF website, you can find all kinds of certified courses.  Just take one of those and you are set.  We have NEVER done that.

Every course that we have designed, we have designed.  There are a ton of considerations that going into designing a course.  The following is a short list of them:

  • Athlete safety
  • Ability to get equipment on the course
  • Spectator access
  • Condition of the course
  • EMT access to a course
  • The cool factor of the course
  • What the police, sheriff, municipality, emergency action department, fire department, DPW, home owners, county, state, DNR, park & rec, common council, feds, CIA, FBI, IRS, DNC, RNC, ABC, NBC, CBS, and the kid selling lemonade all have to say,  AND they all have a lot to say.  Seriously, everyone has their finger in this peach pie.

For example, we have been working on a new tri for the past three years.  The course is limited by state highways and busy roads so the course needs to fit it in a very narrow box.   It is further narrowed by the lack of roads.  Most tris are located outside of populated areas because there are not a lot of large cities where there is a lake, beach, parking lots and roads without a ton of traffic in metropolitan areas.

Last week, we drove the 16 mile course (four times) looking for:

  1. Road condition
  2. Safety of athletes
  3. Cool factor

It failed because the road was in awful condition and a couple crossings we could not make safe.  UG all that work down the drain.

As a side note, people look at you very strangely when you drive by their house four times with GoPros on the front of your truck and course maps in your hands.  Just as the cops.

Today, we are driving the same course with a number of modifications.  If those do not work, we will likely not hold the event in this awesome location because it is not safe.  Three years of work down the drain.

Now you know.


Why can’t I just get my age group medal and leave?

Sportsmanship and it’s all about me.

I know there are super duper athletes that run our events and frequently win their age group or the race.  Folks like Jeff Crosby, Marie Goerke, Paul Horanoff, Rob Winter and David Kugler just to mention a few.  Yep those folks are also on our race team.

But the vast majority of folks are average runners just trying to beat Emmett to the finish line.   That’s me.  I have never won a race, never won my age group and never heard my name called during an awards ceremony.  In fact, I have finish second in my age group three times and each of those times the race didn’t have medals.  Well one did but I had to leave and the race director wouldn’t return my calls or emails for me to pick it up.

At lots of races you can go to a kiosk and get your finish time, age group position and get your medal.  We think that is great and we do it at some of our races with lots and lots of divisions (DoLittle).     The truth is, doing an awards ceremony takes a lot of time and is way more difficult than you think.  There is a reason why no one wants to be the announcer.  Don’t believe me, I invite you to be the announcer at the next event.  Maybe I’ll write about announcing next time. 

Ok back to me.  The reason we do an awards ceremony is for all of the folks who rarely hear their name called at a race.  If you win all the time, you are likely use to it but for those runners, like me, we never hear our name called and it is a big deal to us.  Listen the next time there is a roar from the crowd. It is likely coming from a first-time award winner’s friends.

Now, one last thing.  Sportsmanship.  Remember how great it was to hear your name, have Jeff give you a medal and Rachel take your picture the very first time?  Remember how everyone clapped and cheered for you even though they didn’t know who you were?  Remember that great feeling?  That is sportsmanship.  Most people never get to experience that. 

We know there are lots of things to do and places to go but consider sticking around after you run a race and cheer for those age groupers.  Someday it might just be you on the receiving end of all that applause.

One more last thing. All of the people mentioned above were once “just” runners at our events.  All of them stuck around and cheered for age groupers and all of them helped at events.  Those are special people and I am proud that all of them are now part of our Silver Circle Sports Events team.  Interested in becoming part of our team?  Email me at racedirector@silvercirclesportsevents.com.  Perpetually offended and crabby people need not apply.

A special thank you to our veterans, police officers and firefighters who never hear their name called and nor given a medal for the amazing work they do. 

I told you this was all about me.


Are you done yet?

It’s funny how often a non-runner says “your season must be winding down soon.”  Inside my head I make the smart alec comment, ya runners just stop running when it gets a little chilly out and sit on the couch eating potato chips, sucking down brewskis and binging Chariots of Fire.

The reality is, we are just as busy in the winter as the summer.  Yes we have the 7 race Chilly Willy Winter Run Series, and the Yule Twinkle All The Way 5K, and the Timothy Gahagan Frostbite Scramble and the Average Joe Winter 5K and the…well you get the point.  What really keeps us busy is the 150+ permits we need every year.  Really that many!

Did you think you we just show up and hold a run?  No such luck buckaroo.  There is a process in place for that and it can be amazingly simple like with the DNR, Waukesha County Parks, Vulcan, Milwaukee County Parks, Tamar, Oconomowoc, Mars, Romulus or it can be amazing difficult like with the __________________.  You didn’t really think I was going to call out those municipalities that go out of their way to make it difficult? Did you? Well Shermer, IL and Bedrock are two that come to mind.  There is a joke there in case you missed it.

Dude what is the point of this article?  Nothing really. Just some random thoughts I had while sitting on the couch while Team SCSE and a couple thousand other runners are at the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon.  The page is called Random Thoughts after all.

One last thought, today was Timothy Gahagan’s birthday.  Tim passed a few years ago and in his honor, we hold the Timothy Gahagan Memorial Frostbite Scramble.  All the money raised is donated to the men and women of our local fire department and police department.  Those are the folks I call heros.


How do you know how much water, sports drink, energy gel and food to have at an aid station?

Great question.  Let’s use the DoLittle as an example.  Since we had a 5K, 10K, 10 mile, half, 20 mile and full marathon…..it complicates things a little.  Plus, we had three different start times.  In many races, there is access to the course from a variety of roads.  At the DoLittle, there is only one path and we try not to have vehicles on it since vehicles and runners to not mix well.

The solution is to have three support vehicles moving 13 five gallon water dispensers, 9 five gallon sports drink dispensers, 12 back up 5 gallon water jugs, 12 two liter bottles of coke, 300 packets of energy gel, garbage cans, garbage bags and 50 volunteers over a 26.2 mile course without any direct access.  

That is the easy part.  Figuring out how much “stuff” goes to which station and when is complicated part and top secret.  

I should also mention, these three vehicle operators also must monitor aid stations, runner support calls, medical calls and deal with the RD asking for updates every few milliseconds.  Life behind the scenes at an event is certainly entertaining.

As a side note, we are always looking for folks who want to join our crew.

Next time you are at an event, give those guys and gals a warm thank you.  They likely have been up 12 hours ensuring you have a safe event.

A special thank you to all the volunteers at the DoLittle and to the most amazing SCSE staff: Bob Zimmerman, David Kugler, Jeff Crosby, Shane Osborne, Kathleen Osborne, Rob Winter, Len Waznaik, Chris Strom, McKenna Strom, Rachel Schroeder, Nate Hornburg, Marie Goerke & her Mom, Andi K., Mike Muller & Joe Berman + the guest they brought to help out.  


Why do some races start with a gun start and some with a chip start?

A chip start is a decision that a race director makes.  While a chip start is nice, it is also more expensive since the timer needs additional equipment and staff.   Most race directors are not timers and a timer charges for additional equipment.  As a side note, you would not believe how expensive those magic boxes are!

There are a couple race directors that are also timers.  Like us.   Most of the time we will chip start events.  There are a few exceptions. 

  • Fun runs – we usually don’t chip start a fun run because it is a fun run.
  • Client races – if a client asks us to not chip start it then….well you get it.
  • Trail runs – this goes back to cross country running where you have to toe the line if you want to win.
  • Small races -
  • Technical issues – hey it happens.  

If you want an “official” reason, read THIS.

I also wrote a random thought on the whole gun vs. chip debate that you can find here (it is ½ way down the page).

I will leave you with one inside timer secret.  You always have a gun start time.  When you see the timer standing next to the box, they are creating what is called a gun shot.  That gun shot is used for timing if your chip read is missed. We also use it as a backup in the system for trouble shooting.

Now you know why they dude is squatting next to the magic box.

Hey bucko, the course was short.

Well I dip my toe into this one with great trepidation.  There have been many races over the past few years with short or long courses. Ours included!

As you read through the list, remember that race directors may think they are "super-heroes", but they are just Average Joes and Average Janes with a love of racing.  Did you catch the reference to our Winter Average Joe 5K on February 18?

Here are the reasons:

  1. Someone moves a sign or cone before the race.  There is a reason why most race directors (RD) don’t set courses the night before.  Signs and cones grow legs and walk off. We  had someone move all of our signs on a half marathon at 3 in the morning.  We also have someone change the directions on arrows causing bike riders to go off course.
  2. As a side note, there were a few years where locals would throw tacks on the road to cause riders to get flats. It is crazy what some people will do.
  3. The person setting the course has the wrong map.  Hey it happens sometimes. In fact, I ran a very popular half marathon some time ago where this happened.
  4. Volunteers make decisions for RD’s.  We had a race this year where the volunteer coordinator decided he/she was just going to change the course.  My head still hurts over this one.
  5. A tree falls on the course or a power line goes down. Both have happened to us more than once.  Unfortunately, mother nature doesn’t live up to the deal we cut with her. 
  6. A course change is made last minute for safety reasons.  Yep happened to me us this year and the course was long
  7. Your GPS is wrong. There is a specific methodology for measuring a course and I guarantee you, you didn’t run that route.
  8. We shorted you by .05 miles because we didn’t want to make you do an out and back in parking lot just so we could have exactly 3.12 mile on a fun run “5K”.
  9. The RD just doesn’t care. Ok I threw that one is because that is what social media says. The truth is, I have never met a fellow RD that didn’t care about the details of an event.  

One more thing.  Most shorter races are not “certified”.  The process of certifying a course is tedious and expensive and frankly there isn’t a lot of reason to do it.  Once you get to a half or full there is certainly a reason and most are.  Just ask the RD for the certification number or there is a super-secret website where you can see them. 

Well now you know.  Race directors and course managers take great pride in their work and I have never met one that would knowingly have an inaccurate course.


Why do I have to wear my bib on the front of my shirt?

I can’t tell you how many times I hear that. As an athlete, I hate pinning my bib to the front of my shirt.  As a timer, I hate when athletes don’t.
Why you should wear your bib on the front of your shirt.
It really helps the timer. Most timers will use a manual backup system where they type your bib number into a second computer system.  If your bib is on your back, then the timer can’t see it.  We also run backup video and it is much easier to find you if we can see your bib instead of “that 40ish woman with a blue shirt on”.
Why not to wear it on the front of your shirt.
For me it is uncomfortable and I simply do not like it.  In many triathlons, the RD asks for racers to also wear it on the bike.  There is zero chance that I am going to wear a bib on my chest during a tri.  The flapping sound drives me insane.
The solution?
Wear a bib belt.  A bib belt is an elastic belt that holds your bib and allows you to wear your bib around your waist.  During a run, you can move it to your back and then when you cross the finish line turn it to the front.  At a tri, you just have to grab it in T1 and Shazam you are off to a new PR.  There are tons of belts out there starting at $10 all the way up to $50+.  I use a simple belt that holds a couple packs of GU.  You can get them at your local running store.  Tell them we sent you.
Hey do your timer a favor and don’t fold your bib.  You know who you are….

The weather was like totally clear.

As I sit here waiting for a storm to clear pondering hexadecimal formulas, I thought I would pontificate about weather.  Ok, I don’t really pontificate and I forgot how to use hexadecimals years ago.  

We get asked about weather policies all the time so here is the deal.  While there may be a “window” to get a run in, that window may not be big enough for us to set a course, get volunteers out, clear the course and get volunteers back in.  

Some courses take thirty minutes to set and some take days.  While we are cognizant of runner’s safety, we also need to be cognizant of our staff and volunteers carrying giant metal poles around in a thunderstorm - AKA finish line trusses. Ha, I used cognizant twice in one sentence.

All race directors would rather hold an event than cancel one.  Trust me, it takes way more time to cancel an event than to hold it. Besides, most of us got in the business because we love racing.

Don't believe me?  We still need volunteers tonight.


How to save money on registration fees.

If you race frequently, then you know running can be costly.  Here are a few ways to run for cheap or even free.  Well at least at our events.
1. Volunteer
If you really want to run cheap, run for free. All you have to do is volunteer at one of our events and you can run any of our events for free. 
2. Register early
Early registration fees can be as low at 50% off of the race day registration cost.
3. Teams
If you register a large team, ask the race director for a discount. Most will offer you one.
4. Series
Consider running a series from the same race company. You can run our Chilly Willy Winter Series for as little as $145. That is 6 races, including 2 half marathons.  For summer, consider our Wisconsin Trail Assail Series.  Six races, including 4 half marathons for about the same cost.
5. Pledges
Some events will allow you to race for free if you raise money for them.  Our Move Your Mutt is an example.
6. Free runs
Our Last Call run is free is you participate in 8 of our events during the year.
7. Opt out of a shirt
Many races will let you opt out of a shirt to save a couple bucks.  99% of our races allow this.
8. Read our email
Our weekly email “What’s Up At SCSE” usually has a discount code someplace in the email.
9. Look in your race bag
At almost all of our events, we will slip a free race coupon in a race bag or two.
10. Join the crew or SCSE running team
Many of those folks you see working at our events with staff shirts or Silver Circle Sports Events Running Team on are actually volunteers that work at most of our events.  In turn, they are part of our team and run any of our events at no charge.

Top five things to ensure you get an accurate time at a race

  • Wear your bib on the front of your torso.  This is done for two reasons.  One because that is how the hardware works but equally important is most timers run a manually backup system and type your bib number into a computer.  If we can’t see your bib….
  • Fill out the registration form completely and clearly.
  • Leave the timers alone.  It is the most stressful job in racing and many times they are there just timing.  We own our timing equipment but most race companies do not.  If you have a timing question, see the race director.  At our races, see the Chief Athlete Herder.
  • If you switch races, just let the RD know so the timers can update the database.  Otherwise you just might get called out for running a 1.05 half marathon when you did the 10K
  • Never, ever, ever walk between the finish line barrier and the timing truck/tent.  There are lots of timing cables and equipment there and trust me, you don’t want to be the dude that rips out the timing feed.

At the end of the day, no worries mon.  We run backup systems and video to ensure we get everyone.  If you are not on the list, just let us know.  We will find you.  Nice emails get answered first, crabby emails get time added.

Happy nanosecond chasing.

Can I Run with my Dog?

You would not believe how often we get asked this question.  The polite, simple and short answer is nope.  We know that the majority of dogs are well 

behaved, won’t bother anyone and are better trained than Lassie.  However, many runners see all dogs as Cujo.

Don’t believe us?  Think of that yapping ankle biter you ran by the other day that jutted out at you causing you to jump off the curb while the owner says “he won’t bite you.”  It is not your dog that is the issue. It is what others think your dog might be.
Want to run with your dog at a race?  Check out HAWS Move Your Mutt.  We are also reviewing courses that may accommodate a dog wave where the course is not an out and back or a trail.
Yes that is one of our dogs.  He has a tennis ball issue.

Where did you get the name DoLittle Marathon?

Hey that is a great question.  We had planned a Boston qualifying marathon some time ago and wanted to have BQ in the title but that is a little lame since only you speed demons know what a BQ is. The rest of us common folk just try and do a little marathon.  Ha get it?

Plus the first Chicago Marathon female winner was named Dorothy Doolittle.

What to do the night before a tri?

One of the things I most frequently get asked is what to do the night before a race. Ok, no one ever asks that but they should.

For me, I panic if I am not 100% ready days before an event.  I’ve been to too many events where someone is asking runners if they have an extra pair of shoes or a bike helmet or extra goggles.  I don’t ever want to be that guy.

Laugh now but it will happen. I ran the LA Marathon one time and was staying with my sister in San Diego.  We got to the hotel and as I was unpacking my stuff, I noticed I left my shoes in San Diego.  We drove all the way back to San Diego and then to LA.  No so funny.

I always pick up my packet the day before.  I drive the bike course or run course. I swim the first 400 meters of the course. No you don’t need to but it you are like me, you just might have control issues.

The second most important thing I do is put everything I need for the race on my bed including my bike. Ok my bike doesn’t go on the bed but it is in my hotel room. Yes people look at you weird bringing your bike into the hotel but you’re a triathlete which by default makes you weird. 

I then go through my entire check list. Don’t have one?  We have posted one on our website under the Lake Country Tri race.  Actually I go through it a few times to double check.  Yes I have control issues. 

If it is a long race, I tape my nutrition to my bike.  I cool my drinks in the refrigerator or get a bucket ice.

Then I pack everything.  The truth is, I have no idea why I pack everything because I will check it all again that night and again in the morning.

Finally, the most important thing for me is to do nothing.  Nothing. Absolutely nothing except sit on the bed and watch TV or read.  I rarely even travel with my family because they want to have fun and I want to do nothing.  Ya I know it is weird but I was once at a hotel the night before the Chicago Marathon and as I was brushing my teeth the door of the cabinet fell off and cut my foot.

Hope that helps. Then again I could be totally wrong.  


What does that dude in the trailer do and why does he always looked freaked out?

That dude is a timer. He always looks freaked out because he is a data freak.  See timing is a very complicated job consisting of tiny little packets of data called sockets.  Timers need to ensure that a socket gets sent from one place to another without interruption.  Much easier said than done.
In the old days, we would just enter data into a database and push a little button when you crossed.  Then we would funnel you into a chute and some smelly volunteer would yell at you to tear off the number on the bottom of your bib.
Today’s timer dudes are way more sophisticated. They not only do they deal with times but there is networking, televisions, cameras, photo data, the cloud, smartphones, wifi transmitters, powered USB & HMDI hubs and all those pesky sockets or packets if you will.
Happy running

Ever run a race and not show up in the results?  Here is why and what to do. 

While we will tell you timing is an exact science, it is not.  There are all kinds of things that affect your chip read.  Here are a few…

  • It is a bad chip. Hey chip happens.  Maybe we will blog about how chips get programmed.  It takes way more time than you think.
  • A gremlin reprogrammed your chip the night before as you slept dreaming of a new PR.
  • You entered your gender incorrectly and are now in the elite women’s division.
  • It was a race day registration and it was difficult to read your name so we guessed.
  • Something went wrong with an antenna and it was rebooted.
  • You are running with your husband's bib on and he has yours on so you show up in the wrong division – happens all the time.
  • Some chucklehead walked around the crowd barriers, cones, gates, security, neon signs and past the snipers only to then trip over our generator cord and causes a surge in the system (yes that happens).  Don’t worry we have battery backups and a backup generator.

No worries.  If you ran across the finish line we will have your time.  It might be in a backup laptop database, on a GoPro, or in photos but we will have it. However, we won't know you didn't get a time unless you tell us.  See we (the timer not the race director) don’t know if you started, dropped out or decided to chase a leprechaun through the woods.  Just let us know. 

At all of our races all you have to do is tell the race director or the timing contact and they will fix it for you.  It is that simple.  See one can't know what they don't know.

Here is a suggestion on what not to do.  Go on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or the Sunday evening news and say how much the race director and timer suck and that you will never do their race again.  If it is a quality RD and timer, they will likely have a video or photo of you crossing the finish line.  Some RD’s might just post that video or photo on Facebook along with your registration where you signed up as an elite women.

Happy Running

The great chip vs gun timing debate.

Well folks, it really is not a debate since it is crystal clear.  If you are running a race - note the term race - then the only official time recognized by the USATF is the gun start time. Sorry age groupers but that chip time does not count.  Here is an article from www.oklahoma.usatf.org that explains why the gun start is the only official time used. 

Chip Time Awards versus Gun Time Awards
USATF Rule 245.1 states "The order in which the athletes cross the finish line will be the official finish position." Further, Rule 245.3 - regarding transponder timing - "the actual time elapsed between an athlete reaching the starting line and finish line can be made known to the athlete, but will not be considered as official time." In short, official time per USATF rule is gun time.

Also, USATF Rule 165.16 covers the use of transponder timing systems (i.e., the chip) and Rule 165.16(h) states that "times for other competitors will be adjusted, based on the official winning time." In other words, "chip" timing cannot be used for official time(s) nor records unless the "chip" time is properly adjusted (i.e., gun time) except for LDR Masters age group records if the record setter wins his/her age group and the timing mats are properly placed before the start line and after the finish line (Rule 265.10).

Unofficial chip times should never be used for age group or any other awards in a road race.  

Unofficial chip times for awards destroys head-to-head competition. The winners are based on a separate time trial and it is not always the first runner to the finish. No one really knows who the winners are until the chip times are posted.  Runners will have to wait until everyone in the age group is finished and has his/her time posted.  It could be anyone in any order of finish in the age group. 
Here is an example; two 50-year-old men are in a 5 km chip timed road race.  The first 50-year-old runner starts with the gun and has an 18:00 official gun time.  The second 50-year-old runner sits on the curb or is in the rest room when the gun goes off.  Five minutes after the gun fires and the field clears he crosses the starting mats and finishes in a gun time of 23:00, but has an unofficial chip time of 17:59.  The18:00 minute runner is the first 50-54 runner to cross the finish.  His competition finishes five minutes later and after waiting for the results to be posted it is determined that the second runner has a faster chip time. The race organizers give the award to the faster chip-timed runner and not the real winner even though Rule 245.1 states "The order in which the athletes cross the finish line will be the official finish position.”  
The same two runners are in another race.  They are sprinting head-to-head toward the finish line with the announcer recognizing the competition.   One runner edges the other by a step.  After the results are posted it is determined that the runner finishing second had a faster unofficial chip time.  Again the award goes to the faster chip time and not the real winner.
A runner could be the last to cross the finish line in his/her age group and still be the winner by having the fastest chip time
Chip timing for awards encourages runners to wait around until the start field clears.  By waiting long enough runners could have a clear course from start to finish.   
There are literally hundreds of examples on how this system does not work.  It defeats the whole purpose of competitive racing.

SCSE policy - generally speaking we will chip start an event.  If it is a Wisconsin Trail Assail race, it is always a gun start.
Happy Running

What is the deal with no refund polices in races?

Wow it has been some time since I rambled on about something.  Here is one thing I get asked all the time.  What is the deal with no refund policies at races?

Good question.  The vast majority of races have no refund policies.  I can’t speak for the industry but I can for Silver Circle Sports Events.  It is difficult to describe the amount of effort that goes into promoting a safe, memorable and quality event before race day.   As you bore yourself reading this, think of all those great events you attended and the not so good events.

The amount of work and cost that is incurred behind the scenes is extraordinary.  We frequently get asked “how hard can it be.  It’s a couple of shirts and some water.”  Well that is true but there are a thousand other things to consider if you want to participate in a safe, memorable and quality event.

Remember that race a few years ago where they ran out of water?  Oops.  Here few things to consider……

  • How do you get power to the start line, finish line, registration, food tent and PA system when the race is in the middle of a park?
  • Where do porta potties come from, how many do you need and how to you get them placed on a course?
  • Where do you get 300 cones for a half marathon and where on earth do you store them?
  • How do you get all that stuff to an event?  We have two trucks, three trailers and five atv's.  Besides your front lawn, where do you store it all?
  • The course manager and his crew has to be on site by 4 am.
  • We start permitting 12 months in advance.  For the Lake Country Marathon we had to permit the event is 6 municipalities and 2 counties.  That is a minimum of 8 meetings but most communities require at least two meetings for the permit plus meeting with the police department and the department of public works.
  • At our Wisconsin Trail Assail races, we typically have 3 aid stations with around 25 gallons of water, sports drink and energy supplements at each aid station.  How do you get that to the aid station when it’s in the middle of a park with no vehicle access?  Geez just think of the coordination need for a marathon.
  • Exactly how many cups do you need?  What size and where do you get them?
  • Have you ever dealt with “elite” athletes or better yet their handlers? 
  • What is the course plan when someone moves all your cones, directional signs and mile markers?  It happens – a lot.
  • Tshirts have to be ordered about a week ahead of the race.  How many extra do you need to order for race day registrations?  See our tshirt tab for an explanation on tshirts.
  • Custom medals have to be ordered about 3 months before an event. Yes they all come from China.
  • How many people sign up two weeks ahead, one week ahead or race day and how do you plan and inventory for that?
  • Those are just a couple examples.  Running the event is actually the easiest part.  As a race director, my goal is to first ensure you have a save experience and second exceed your expectations.  If we completed all of those items and a thousand more on the list, we will.  Your job should be show up (on time), run a PR, have a great experience and never notice any of those things on the list. 

The reason why we have a no refund policy is because all of those items / costs are front loaded and based on your attendance. When you cancel, we have already incurred those costs to ensure we exceed your expectations.  That’s it in a nutshell but now you know why.

Still not a good enough answer?  You can always buy insurance from active.com when registering. 

I will let you in on a secret.  If you are really nice to the RD and staff they might move your registration to another event. Want to ensure they do, consider volunteering for the event.  If you volunteer at a Silver Circle Sports Events race, you will get your registration moved to another event.

That’s it.  Got questions or want to volunteer?  Fire off one of those newfangled email thingy’s to racedirector@silvercirclesportsevents.com

Happy Running


Got Bloody Nipples?

If you are an experienced runner you just quivered with painful memories.  If you are new to running I’m sure you are thinking ya as a matter of fact…  What the heck?

Look we have all been there.  It is one of the most painful things to work through on a distance run.  However, it is one of the easier “problems” to fix.

Runner's World has a good article about it but there is a very simple answer. Band-Aids.  Yep grab a couple of your kids Sponge Bob Square Pants Band-Aids and slap those over your nipples.  Just make sure you peal them off before you go strutting around the finish line with your shirt off.   

Happy Running


So you want to be a runner but not sure how to start?

The hardest part is starting.  What cloths do I need?  How far should I run?  Should I run in $200 shoes or those funny shoes that look like water shoes?  What should I eat and drink?  Do I really need to do fartleks and what are they?

It’s actually very simple.  Get off your rear and start with a walk.  That is the single most difficult thing to do.  Really!  Really?  Yes really.

The second hardest is to do it the next day and the next and the next.  Until shazam! The next thing you know you are a runner.  But be careful because soon you will be that slim dude or dudette who is planning vacations around marathons.  Ah the runner high….

Ok so seriously, here is a great article from Runners World that answers all those questions you want to ask your skinny runner friend but don’t want to ask your skinny runner friend.

Finally, consider going to the park and walking / running on a trail.  It is much easier on your body and mind.

Next we will tell you how to be an Ironman. Got an extra 600 hours in your year?

Happy Running


Need a training break?  Try a naked run.

Dreading your next run?  Can’t seem to find the motivation to lace up your shoes and get out there?  You may just be in a training rut. 

Try this – forget your regular route where you know every mile, every yappy little dog to watch out for, every house that you wonder why don’t they just mow the lawn, every intersection, stop light, stop sign, crack in the road to jump over, water stop……….

Go to a park and try a new course or a trail run.  Most parks have great trails that meander through forests and around lakes. If you are lucky enough to live is southeastern WI, try a Waukesha County or Wisconsin State park.  They all have trails of varying distances and difficulties.

Most importantly, leave your GPS, GU belt, heart rate monitor and iPod at home.  Just run.   We call it running naked.

What did you think running naked meant?

Happy “naked” running


How does timing work?

As athletes, we frequently take timing for granted.  After all, how hard can it be?  There is a chip on the bib and when you finish it magically records your time.  You never even think about the timer hiding behind the finish line.  That is until they get it wrong…

Well, timing is actually a very sophisticated and complicated process. 

Here is how it works.  That chip on your bib is actually a tiny computer that stores data on it.  When you get near the finish line, an antenna (four in our case) sends a signal out to your bib.  When the bib sees that signal, it responds with the data on the bib.  Simple enough.  What could possible go wrong?

Do you remember at your last race when the race director was giving instructions about your bib placement?  Barking over the PA system to make sure you place your bib on the front of your shirt.  That’s because the antenna can’t see through your body and thus can’t communicate with your chip. 

Ever notice those random people standing around a finish line with a pen and paper or a laptop?  Those random people are typically the timing crew with backup systems and if they can’t see your bib, they can’t record it. 

Do the timing crew a favor and place the bib where they recommend.  You will get a much more accurate timing result.

What else can go wrong? 

You signed up for the 10K but only ran the 5K. The computer still thinks you ran a 10K but you are super quick.  Just let the timer know when you finish and they will take care of it.  Otherwise, when they call your name as the winner of the 10K you can do it then.  Really your friends won’t call you out on it.

When you signed up for the family friendly 5K, you used your name for all 4 members but put the right ages and sex in.  The computer doesn’t know this and when the results are printed, Mrs. Johnson won the 10 and under boys division.  Your son will be so proud of you. 

What can you do to make sure you get the most accurate result for your race?

1.       Place the bib where the RD or timer asks.
2.       Ensure all the data is correct when you register.
3.       If there is an issue with your results, do not approach the timers.  Most timers will have one person who is the point of contact.  That person will handle all the discrepancies.  Just let them know ASAP and shazam it will get taken care of.
4.       Run super duper fast and see if you can beat the antenna signals. 

Couple fun facts

1.       Our antenna starts to read your chip about 30 feet before you finish and tracks you all the way in.
2.       The results are accurate to 0.001 second.
3.       The chip on your bib actually has to be programmed by the timer before a race. Imagine how long it takes to program 1000 chips.
4.       Typically, there is a main timing computer, 1-2 back up computers, 1 computer used just for results & race clock TV’s and someone hand writing results.
5.       The antennas can read speed 200+ miles per hour.  Just in case you can ride your bike that fast.

So that’s it in laymen terms.  If you have an interest in more details, we would be happy to geek out with you and go through the system.  Just don’t ask the timer to do it during a race.

Happy Running


What's the deal with medals?

Like t-shirts, it’s a love / hate relationship with race directors.  As a fellow endurance athlete, I love getting a medal as the overall winner. I also love it when I just win my age group.  Only problem....I am a middle of the pack age grouper.  However I have been fortunate enough to place three times in my racing career. Only problem, the race director at each of those events did not have medals. Ug talk about a letdown.  

So like shirts, we take medals serious.  We try to provide a quality finisher’s medal for all our half marathons and when our events are timed, we again try to provide a quality age group medal.  

If you're not lucky enough to have a wall full of winner or age group medals, then we hope you take solace in getting a quality finisher's medal from Silver Circle Sports Events. 

Couple facts about medals

  • They cost between two and five bucks each.
  • Custom lanyards cost a few additional dollars.
  • Custom medals must be ordered at least 8 weeks in advance and they all come from China on a boat.
  • We use Hasty Awards and our rep Rick is great!
  • Yes we have thousands of old medals sitting in our warehouse.  Like shirts, it is a complete waste of resources and not very green. Any ideas?

Now you know. Happy Running.


What is the difference between cross country and trail runs?

Great question!  Cross country runs are typically held at a high school, collage, golf course or some other area that has a large area of open space that is mowed.  Generally speaking, cross country runners wear spikes.

Trail running involves a much large terrain format.  It can include everything from cross country type space, rocky areas, open fields, dirt paths, hills or even groomed areas.  Much of it is up to the race director.  Occasionally, cross country involves trails but not frequently in southeastern Wisconsin.

All of the Wisconsin Trail Assail courses include an open field start where runners toe the line for a mass start - just like cross country.  After a sprint across an open field, runners enter the trail system.  For the Wisconsin Trail Assail, most are groomed trails and covered in compacted wood chips.  Most people do not wear spikes but you certainly can if you wish.

Happy running


Why is running so expensive?

Why are half marathons so expensive? I don't know.  Here is an article in Esquire about the sky rocketing prices of half marathons.

"The average entry fee for the top 25 U.S. marathons has gone up 35 percent since 2007, to $112—three and a half times faster than inflation—according to the industry association RunningUSA. For the top 25 half marathons, which have become hugely popular, the average price has more than doubled, to $94. And while (today’s) Boston Marathon cost a comparatively cheap $150, the New York Marathon rose from $80 in 2004 to $255 last year, a 219 percent increase."

As a side note, you can run four 1/2 marathon and 4 10k's at Silver Circle Sports Events, LLC for the cost of running one marathon. 

How to save $$$ and run for free?

At SCSE we understand racing is expensive.  Heck that 140.6 distance triathlon is almost $800. We get it.  There are a couple ways to race cheaply.  The cheapest is free.  Volunteer at any event and you can run one of our events for free. That's good for 2 calendar years.  We have a couple that volunteer at every event and race all our events for free.

The other way is to register early.  Generally the entry fee is about 1/2 the cost of race day.  Either way, racing can be much cheaper with just a little planning.


Lets start with some frequently asked questions..

How long does it take to cone a course?
That depends on a number of factors but in general it takes about 3 hours to cone a 1/2 marathon.

How many cones does it take to cone a 1/2 marathon.
Again, it depends on a number of facts but its around 500.

Where do you store all that stuff?
In a warehouse.

How long does it take to set up a mud run course?
We start preparing a course about a week out.  Generally we have the excavators dig the pits 5-6 days in advance and then test them. Sometimes we have to line the pits to keep water in but it all depends on weather conditions.

How much does it cost to promote a run?  It's just a tshirt, some water and a few medals right?
Sometimes but for us its always more than that. Here are a couple examples of some of the costs that your entry fee covers

Tents - couple grand
Permits - as cheap as free or we just permitted an event for $1,600.
Timing - we own our own timing company now.  They still charge us too much.
Police - generally its around $25 per hour with a minimum of two officers and two hours.
Medical - sometimes free and sometimes $1,000.  We always have medical on site just in case.
Insurance - don't ask.
Legal - you don't want to know.
Water - your not going to believe this.  Sometimes we have to pay to have a meter put on the water source.  That is around $400.  The cost of the water from the meter? Around $20.
Garbage - couple hundred bucks.
Income tax - ask our accountant.
Porta potties - couple hundred bucks each.
Want to start an event or need some help?  Click on contact us and send us a jingle. We would be happy to answer a few questions.

That's it for now.