Race Day: Kiawah Island Marathon

Race Day: Kiawah Island Marathon

RunSignup’s RaceDay team volunteered at this year’s Kiawah Island Marathon prior to the race and on race day. Nine of us started race day at 4am to provide support for the event’s timing company, Go Race Productions. Crisp McDonald, the owner and operator of Go Race Productions times the Kiawah Island Marathon, and is part of RunSingup’s RaceDay team. He and Stephanie Middlebrooks divided up our duties so we could all get a taste of different aspects of the timer staff’s role.

We were hoping for some nice balmy beach weather, but as timers and race directors can tell you, weather is an unpredictable factor along with whatever else is thrown at you on race day. Instead of a warm sunny day, it was cold, rainy and windy – actually pretty good weather for most runners. We bundled up, donned our headlamps and rolled out. Some used big trucks others were on golf carts and bikes since the roads would be closed soon. The team used Whats App to communicate with one another throughout the day since we were spread out along the course.

We set out in our various vehicles to set up timing mats, decoders and clocks along the course. Our crew for the Sanctuary, mile 22.5 spot arrived to find the pool area padlocked and had to figure out a way in. So, what should have taken 15 minutes to set up, took about 45 minutes. A typical day in the life of a timer!

As we set up the equipment at designated mile points, Crisp would confirm the decoder was online and the mini teams would move on to the next point. We encountered minor issues that were quickly resolved. A collective proud sigh of relief could be felt when the all systems are a go message came across. Wahooo! We did it!

As we were waiting for the countdown for the race to start, we got the “race is delayed” message- another frequent challenge for events is you just don’t know what will happen to delay the start. In this case, there was a shuttle bus that broke down on the course. So, one of Go Race Productions timers, Stephanie, was out helping to direct traffic.

But in little time, the bus was off the course and the race began and our team activated the clocks positioned along the course. Mission accomplished!

Go Race Productions used Race Results timing equipment along with RunSignup’s RaceDay Scoring software to score 6,000 finishers without a hitch. Officially scored finish times is an essential part of the race day experience for events like Kiawah Island Marathon. But before we get to the end of the race, we should share some of the things we observed race organizers did to use technology to add to the race experience.

Announcers with Participant Feed for Personalized Approach

The event actually had multiple announcers on the course- not just at the Start/Finish area, which really added to the experience for participants since during the race is where you typically need a bit of encouragement. The timer set it up for the announcers to access RaceDay Scoring’s new announcer screen that transmits personalized information about participants as they cross the timing mat set up in advance of the announcer’s station. This ties back into the registration information and the custom questions asked during registration. The announcers used this information to recognize active military and thank them for their service, to extend a big Happy Birthday, to share why a person runs, and so on. It was great to see the reaction from participants and good for our developers to realize how their technology was being used to give participants that extra boost.

RaceJoy’s Participant Tracking

The race offered RaceJoy’s live participant tracking and cheer sending and promoted RaceJoy on their Facebook page, through email, and at the expo. RaceJoy uses the participant’s phone as a tracking device and shows their location on the official course map. Participants and spectators made full use of the app on race day with 5,400 users and close to 100,000 progress alerts issued. Progress alerts are sent out at every mile and include the participants location, pace, and estimated finish time. Supporting spectators sent more than 16,000 cheers to their friends and family doing the race.

RaceJoy offers event organizers a dashboard monitor so they can get global view of participants using the app and dial into their performance data as shown in the video below.

They can also access a leader board of those using RaceJoy like this one showing Kiawah Island Marathon runners:

Scoring and Results

As mentioned earlier, the timer used RaceDay Scoring to score finishers and then used RunSignup’s RaceDay Results to distribute real-time online results – something participants now expect to be within moments of crossing the finish line. The timer set up a results kiosk tent that was much appreciated by finishers. Results were also displayed in RaceJoy. RunSignup retains the participants results information so that participants can review past performance at any time.

Below is our developer Scott O’Hara who bravely was the front person for results and any timer can tell you that is not an envied position. Scott also scored the 5K Glow Run using RaceDay Scoring!

We volunteers stayed the course until the last finisher came in and some of us got to wildly cheer Johnny on personally. He was escorted by the sweeper and was in great spirits. We gathered up the equipment on the course and made a mess of it for the timer to clean up later.

Afterwards, we gathered together and shared our experiences. One thing we all agreed on was that the life of a timer is hard work and most people have no idea all that goes on behind the scenes to put on a race. It gave our team more perspective on the types of challenges a timer and race organizer face. We agreed the experience was priceless.

Pre Race Kiawah Island Marathon

Our team volunteered the day before race day as well. Check out this blog to get some tips of things you may want to do for your race.


The RaceDay team wants to extend a special thank you to Kiawah Island Marathon’s race director, Liz King, for putting on such a quality event and allowing us to take part in the offering. And to Crisp McDonald and Stephanie Middlebrooks for making it happen and giving us such valuable on the ground experience that our team can apply to the development of timer technology products. We hope we didn’t leave too much of a mess with your timing equipment!

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