Internal RunSignup Email on RaceDay Scoring 2.0

This is the email Bob sent this morning to the company. We wanted to share it…

Today is one of the biggest days we have ever had at RunSignup. RaceDay Scoring 2.0 is being released today. While many of you have worked to help make this day possible, there are others who don’t work directly with the product. And still more who have not seen the 8 year journey to get to this day. So (as I tend to do), let me give some perspective on this day…

Company Purpose

We are known as a “registration company”, and that is true in the sense of that is the primary reason races select us. We help races grow, from promotion tools that get people to sign up, to integrated donations and fundraising, to 100% on-time payments (and accurate sales tax collection and remittance :-)).

But our broader purpose is to provide technology to races. And the reason many people sign up for those races is to run or walk a distance and hit goals of place, time or completion. Timers are the people who provide that proof. They get up early on Saturday mornings and set up all sorts of expensive and fancy equipment, and then measure and publish results for those participants.

The way they do that is with Scoring Software. Sue finished in 18:43 in second place in her age group! Bill finished in 32:14, which was 43rd in his age group, but is a PR! Bob finished! And this is the very reason why people show up for a race rather than a rave.

We had a vision 8 years ago to better tie these things together. We made friends with Roger Bradshaw, the creator of The Race Director, and Alan Jones, the creator of RunScore. We convinced them both to integrate with our API so timers could easily download participants; then, when results were ready, those programs could send them back to RunSignup Results in the cloud so they could be shared on result webpages, leaderboards and txt alerts, which could be sent to participants literally seconds after they crossed the finish line.

Roger and James Join RunSignup

Five years ago, Roger joined RunSignup. The purpose was to develop a next generation of scoring software so that timers could provide a better experience to race participants. Roger had already developed The Race Director as a PC product on Foxpro, over a period of about 25 years, when he joined RunSignup. He had done this as a project of passion – he had a full time job in IT at Gerber/Nestle. He had patiently listened to his customers, and incrementally added features as he learned their needs. There were things he wished he could do differently with more modern technology, and things he wish he had done differently from the beginning that were now too far down the road to rewrite. He also knew there was a next generation of timers who wanted more. More automation, more seamless networking with the cloud, more ease of use, and more value to provide to races and participants.

At that same time, we met James and Shelly Harris of RaceJoy. James and I talked about a grand vision of Gun, Chip and GPS living all together, providing the next generation of race day experience to participants beyond just chip timing with real interaction between family, friends and supporters (affordably and in real time) for a more communal experience in the achievements of completing an event. They also decided to join RunSignup about 5 years ago.

RaceDay Scoring Begins

Our brilliant CTO, Stephen Sigwart, began the foundational architecture of RaceDay Scoring starting nearly 3 years ago. Our goal was to do a “Goldilocks” product – more powerful than The Race Director, but easier to use than RunScore. We wanted an open, modern architecture that allowed for full local scoring on a PC without internet, but when connected, took full advantage of the power of the cloud and the syncing and sharing of information.

I remember scoring the first ever race in August, 2017 with an early version of the product. It was more like RunScore then – we had to code a “listing” to compute the places in a “Prediction Run” (where runners predict their time, and their place is calculated by the absolute value of the difference between their prediction and their actual time). Stephen and I were happy that we were able to pull it off, although Stephen was disappointed he was 7 seconds off in his prediction and finished 7th.

We also knew it needed a lot more love and care than the two of us could muster.

RaceDay Scoring Team

Software products are works of art. Like works of art, they are created by people. And the more experience, talent and love those people have for their art, the better the product is. The reason RaceDay Scoring 2.0 came to life is because of this amazing team.

Roger Bradshaw – It all starts with him. What is kind of funny is that Roger is the first to say he is not a timer. But ask any of his hundreds of customers, and they will tell you this is a man who listens carefully to their needs and builds solutions. He has seen thousands of use cases, and spent decades thinking of the best way to approach the challenges of timing. As he says, he has the scars on his back from being one of the early pioneers. His role on the team is to define what timers really need. To help architect the best way to build the product and design the database. To help test the real world applicability of what the rest of the team has built. He has taken thousands of sample races through each of the 31 releases we have done in 2019 to get from Version 1.0 to 2.0 of the product. RaceDay Scoring is built on the shoulders of Roger Bradshaw and his creation from nearly 30 years ago, The Race Director. It is built on the foundation of the hundreds of timers who score literally 8-9 million people per year for more than 20,000 races.

James Harris – James is the brilliant creator of RaceJoy. When you meet James, you immediately know the passion he has for technology and the endurance community. His past as an elite triathlete, software architect and development leader prepared him for doing his own startup with his wife, Shelly, 8 years ago. His vision was to allow participants to have a shared experience using mobile and GPS technology that would supplement traditional timing. In 2018, we asked him to take over responsibility for all of our RaceDay products, and in particular get RaceDay Scoring 1.0 released. In typical James fashion, he launched himself into trying to take the rough foundation Stephen had built to create a usable product. He was able to repurpose technology he had written to connect RaceJoy to chip timing data to create an open connector capability that allows RaceDay Scoring to connect to all timing hardware systems. He built a team and figured out the critical path items to get a 1.0 product to timers a year ago, while also continuing to improve and support RaceJoy. This year, as we expanded the team and critical items came together, he also took on direct responsibility for some of the most critical elements to get a real 2.0 product out the door. In building out the team scoring capabilities, he rearchitected some of the underlying scoring engine. He and Michael worked to optimize the database design and operations to deliver high performance. This helps provide a foundation for years of continued improvements on a modern architecture built for the future.

Matt Avery – Matt joined us nearly 5 years ago to help Roger do weekend support of timers. He was a timer at YellowJacket Racing up in Rochester. We did not realize the talent we were getting – it was like New England picking up Brady in the 6th round. It turns out he is a scoring savant, who has learned from the master scorer, Roger Bradshaw. He not only understands the nuances of scoring software functionality, but has the soft skills of listening to customers and translating that into technology solutions. He is now the product manager for RaceDay Scoring. He figures out priorities, helps define what we need to build, and actually helps to code the product and what it looks like.

Michael Chisolm – Michael is another rough gem that joined James on the RaceJoy team over 4 years ago. It has been amazing to watch him develop from a shy junior developer to a very good developer who is taking responsibility for major parts of RaceDay Scoring. Did you notice that RaceDay Scoring auto updated? That’s Michael. Do you know how the tens or hundreds of reads for an individual chip get sorted into the most perfect time? That’s also Michael. Ever wonder how so many chip reads and so many finishers and so many scoring settings perform efficiently? Again, that’s Michael. Ever do reporting? Michael. Ever notice how seamlessly everything syncs with the cloud? Yes, that’s Michael. He has his fingerprints all over RaceDay Scoring 2, from the features you love to the stability you expect.

Matt Morrison – Matt has been one of our most senior developers at RunSignup for the past three years. He came to us from Amazon because he loved running and mountain biking and triathlons. He and his wife help a local tri club put on races and time. His kids run competitively. RunSignup just “fit” for him. He has built the RunSignup Insights engine (basically Google Analytics for RunSignup customers), and done robust integrations with Shopify, Mailchimp and Dropbox. He is one of 3 developers authorized to release code on our production servers. This year he became the cloud part of the RaceDay team. He has been doing a lot operationally under the covers, and in 2020 you will see new capabilities in our Results and Timer Dashboard that Matt is leading.

Jack Mustacato – Jack joined us this year, and has had major impact already. Lots of small improvements that our many 1.0 customers reported like band jumping rules and bib assignment, as well as major things like corrals and wave starts. So if you are timing a triathlon, think of Jack…

Brendon Lyra – Brendon also joined us this year. He has also made contributions that are significant. If you like the dashboard, it is probably because of some of the features Brendon put in there. He’s made several dozen improvements in his short time here, and we expect some great things from him in years to come.

Shelly Harris – Part of the original RaceJoy team, Shelly has taken on the lead to help educate our customers. She led the certification training of 330 timers in 2019, and works with them to continue their education. She also helps timers incorporate RaceJoy into their operations. You may have recently done a timer survey, which Shelly is coordinating to make sure we get real feedback from a broad range of timers on what is important to them. In the future, we want to help timers improve their businesses, as well as provide races with better race day capabilities.

Kevin Lai – Kevin is another gem who joined us about 2 years ago. He is part of the weekend warrior team, specializing in helping to support RaceJoy and RaceDay Scoring. He has become an expert on these two systems, and is part of the team that delivers certification and advanced training on these products so that timers optimize their use of our technology.

Val Lofton – Val is another part of our weekend warrior team. She is a timer who still times races in between her support calls and emails at RunSignup. Having this type of hands-on experience directly on the team is invaluable for real world feedback and testing.

Crisp McDonald – Crisp has been a timer for a number of years. His role is to help provide hands-on education to timers on our technology stack. You can find him at industry conferences and scheduling web training sessions throughout the year. Want to proactively dig into the details on a RaceDay topic? Crisp is your guy.

What RaceDay Scoring Means to the Industry

The release of RaceDay Scoring 2.0 is the first production-ready new platform released in years to our industry. The Race Director and RunScore are both 30+ year old products that have 60% market share today. They have served timers well, but there is a new generation of technology available. RaceDay Scoring is that open alternative.

RunSignup is one of the few companies that has the critical mass and business setup to be able to provide high quality software and support. The fact is that Roger and Alan provided huge functionality for minuscule cost. The software costs do not justify the expense on a standalone basis, which is why you have not seen competitors arise. RunSignup justifies the large expense of the talented team above because of our large registration business. We have a business model that benefits timers, and timers then help drive races to RunSignup. Since we are now the largest registration company in the US, it means we can afford to build the best race day technology.

RunSignup’s open philosophy also enables other scoring platforms to interoperate with our registration business. RunScore, Chronotrack, Agee, RMTiming, RaceTech, Active/Ipico and others can interoperate with our Open API. Since we really do not make money on the scoring software, we are neutral on what scoring software a timer uses. So we fully support and collaborate with all of these vendors. We are not competing with them.

We do expect that all The Race Director customers will migrate over the next 3 years to RaceDay Scoring. Roger released the last official big release of The Race Director (2020) this month as well. We have committed to supporting it through 2023, and Roger intends to stay here even longer to be part of the RaceDay team. We are also seeing a large number of RunScore users who have been part of the 1.0 user base this year. They love the power they get, and especially appreciate the ease of use and the ease of training new timers. Over the next several years, RaceDay Scoring is expected to become the most used scoring tool for timers.

2020 Plans

We have lots of great plans for 2020! At the top of my list is XC support! It is the best sport, so we need to support it well for the coming fall 2020 season.

You will also see an increasing amount of crossover and interaction of the vision James and I discussed 5 years ago, between Gun, Chip and GPS. RaceJoy will also have a new version that allows participants to keep their profile in the app, making tracking, signing up and finding results and photos even easier.

There will be a next-gen version of Photos in 2020 as well.

The Timer Dashboard will see major improvements, and we will have a refresh on our results displays and kiosks. You can also expect to see a new web check-in as well as improved Expo mode for registration. We will be sunsetting the Signup App as we find that leaving registration open and letting people sign up on their own devices is much more effective.

Want to learn more? Here are the near term opportunities:

We’ve put a lot of effort into this, and are excited for the feedback and continuous improvement we will make!

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