4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

NYRR Switching to Chronotrack DTag?

with 14 comments

I recieved my Marathon Handbook in the mail this past week, and noticed that one of the ‘changes for 2009’ is the switch from ChampionChip to the Chronotrack DTag timing system.  Then, this weekend, I was trying to do some planning for upcoming races, and noticed that many (all?) of the upcoming 2009 races are also using DTag.  The DTag system is a disposible RFID device that also attaches to your shoe and provides timing for races.  In fact, this was the system used when I ran the Austin Marathon earlier this year.

Hadn’t seen any official announcements on this, but wonder if this is a permanent switch.  Apparently, it was already used earlier this year in the Mother’s Day Race.  Personally, I have owned my ChampionChip since the 2000 NYC Marathon, and really like being able to stick it on my shoe and not worry about it during races.  It is also great that I could use it at other non-NYRR events also using the ChampionChip system.  But, on the flip side, I’m sure most people don’t own their chips and have to then deal with the hassle of leaving the chip behind after the race and getting charged if it gets lost.

Will reserve further judgement until I try the new system myself and see how it goes.  As long as the timing is accurate, and the system is not difficult to use, then perhaps this change is for the best?


Written by SCL

August 9, 2009 at 9:11 pm

Posted in NYRR

Tagged with , , ,

14 Responses

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  1. Even as someone without my own Champion Chip (actually, I think I have a few that have been given as souvenirs after various races, but I’ve never bothered to use them again), I don’t think it’s a big deal whether a race uses the Champion Chip or the D-Tag. I haven’t had problems with my time registering correctly with either one, so until I hear that one is better for results than another, I’ll assume they’re about the same level of accuracy. As far as turning my Champion Chip in after a race? TOTALLY not a big deal to take 30 seconds to let a volunteer clip the strings holding it on, and I don’t really see how you could miss the chip removal either, since almost all races have the volunteers right smack dab in the middle of the finish chute where you have to exit.

  2. you’re so right! running 5x a week is huge for me!! who am I kidding?! Thanks for pointing it out to me! appreciate it!


    August 14, 2009 at 12:28 pm

  3. Well, from first hand experience, I don’t think the D-Tag is just as accurate as Champion Chip and am not happy with it.

    I ran the NYC 1/2 yesterday, and also owning my own Champion Chips (I engineered one to fit in the sole of a Nike+ shoe) I reserved judgement. I believe there were problems with the D-Tag system – as it missed my readings at the 10k split and the finish. Scrolling through the official results, I’d say there were 5% to 10% of the splits missed at the 10k station so clearly there was a problem there. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell how many were missed at the finish, because if it doesn’t scan you at the finish, you’re not an official finisher and don’t show up in the NYRR results. I was able to see where they did have my readings from the real-time runner tracking site they had.

    We’ll see what NYRR’s response is as I attempt to get my situation resolved.


    August 17, 2009 at 5:09 am

    • I am so furious as I am one finisher who’s tag did not scan so I am nowhere to be found on the NYRR result for this Sunday’s half marathon. I emailed and called and I finally got an email back which was even more frustrating as it says “I am sorry to hear we missed your time”. And then to ask if I had attached my tag properly! I am so beside myself when I think of this. I live upstate NY and made a special trip to NY for this race. I spent hundreds of dollars on hotel and food and no official result…what a disappointment. Please let me know what you find out…it is somehow a consolation to hear that I was not the only one…but so far the NYRR club has not handle this very well.


      March 22, 2010 at 6:18 pm

      • You have my sympathy Virginie. I was pretty furious myself when their response was the same, in effect blaming me…even though I was clocked at almost all the other checkpoints. I’ve never heard of the frequency of problems as there have been with the D-Tag. It is not normal. Again, in probably 70 some-odd races in 10 years I’ve never had a problem with ChampionChip.

        It is disappointing when you go all out for a destination race only to have something like that happen and ruin it.


        March 22, 2010 at 8:03 pm

  4. Using the DTag for the first time Sunday I liked not having to stand in line to get my chip clipped. Haven’t yet checked it’s accuracy vs. the chip.


    August 18, 2009 at 12:39 pm

  5. I found the DTag very easy to put on my sneaker. I don’t run many races so for me it was perfect!!


    August 20, 2009 at 6:21 pm

  6. I actually had an issue with the D-tag for the first time ever…

    I ran the Crim 10mile race in Flint, MI this past weekend, and I got NO RESULTS WHATSOEVER! Not only did I run my best 10mi race ever, but I have NO PROOF! Glorious.


    August 23, 2009 at 5:41 pm

  7. I feel for you Andy – when I saw the official NYRR 1/2 results and missing times at the 10k checkpoint (also not to mention my own non-reading at the finish), I became convinced that D-Tag is not so great. Be sure to contact your race organizers (generally will have an email link on the website) and tell them the time your watch read. If they won’t update your time based on that, then tell them to go to the finish line photos by whoever was doing the pictures for your race (generally brightroom or other outfit) – they will generally get a photo of you at the finish with the clock. Two years ago, the Honolulu Marathon had a fiasco with their first foray into a D-Tag type RFID – it took them months of going through finish line photos to get everyone’s official time. Next year they went back to the Champion Chip while continuing to apologize profusely.

    NYRR updated the official results to include the time that I gave to them, but they don’t have any of my splits in the official results, even though they are on the real-time runner tracking site.

    Laura (I checked out your blog – you are amazing!) – I don’t think NYRR or anyone using the D-Tag are concerned about the 30 seconds for the runner to get the chip clipped at the end. I know that their issues are:

    1. Physically distributing and retrieving the Champion Chips with each race. For NYRR this means keeping a stockpile of probably 30,000 to 40,000 chips (considering the number of entrants each year for the NYC Marathon) and with their bigger weekend races distributing and retrieving probably around 10,000.

    2. They need to get the volunteers to be working in the finish area to collect the chips. Multiply 30 seconds by 5,000 or more – that’s a lot of extra time for people working and runners waiting in the finish line area.

    Personally I like Champion Chip – never had any timing problem in 10 years and probably 75 races. I like that when I run a local race, or a marathon on the opther side of the country that I can use my own chip – just a quick scan at registration and that’s it. First race with D-Tag and it stinks. I don’t need any more proof. Let the race organizers require runners to have their own Champion Chip. If they don’t have one, make it a requirement that they purchase one with their entry the first time.


    August 23, 2009 at 9:21 pm

  8. Thanks, Howard! Very good point about the volunteers for the chip removal – I’m so selfishly concerned with getting myself to the post-race food that I didn’t even consider the manpower required to remove the chips 🙂


    August 24, 2009 at 8:23 am

  9. Disposable? Oh, great. Millions of chips hitting the landfill every year. Come on, there has to be a better way.


    September 26, 2009 at 9:16 pm

  10. I just ran the Portland Oregon Marathon and am extremely unhappy with the D-Tag system. I ran a 03:05:46 (according to my stopwatch) and was very excited about that since it is a qualifying time for Boston. However, my times did not show up when the race results were posted. I submitted two correction forms but received no response. I finally got in touch with someone from the timing company and she indicated that my chip may have been damaged when I tied my laces or if someone stepped on my foot. While I strongly question the logic in requiring a chip that can be damaged by laces to be attached to runners by their laces and attaching something to a runner’s foot that can be damaged by being stepped on, I told her that I followed the on line instructions for attaching the tag and was not stepped on. She indicated that the numbers may have been printed in a different location on the tags. That says to me that the instructions may not have been totally accurate.

    The person also mentioned that it was too bad she just found out about my issue since my split times may have been in the “boxes,” but those “boxes” were cleared because they were used in another marathon the weekend following Portland. As you might guess, that was/is extremely frustrating to me because I submitted two correction forms right away and was told by someone with the Portland marathon to wait a week to see what happened. Apparently, if I or someone with the Portland marathon called earlier, they might have been able to download my times from the “boxes.”

    I say let’s go back to Champion Chip!


    October 12, 2009 at 3:10 pm

  11. I’ve had a chance now to run a couple of NYRR races with D-Tag. D-Tag is more annoying for me, because I now have to remember to tag my shoes, and make sure I do it correctly. And also, it seems like unecessary plastic additions to the waste stream, as they can’t be reused. Before, I just had my chip on my shoe and didn’t have to worry about it. But, at the end of the day, if it records the times properly, and it makes for a better organized race somehow, then I’m for it.

    I have heard of several issues with people not getting timed with D-Tag (some in the comments here), but I’m sure ChampionChip has the same sorts of issues with some people not getting timed due to some problem or other, so I can’t say if either system is more or less accurate based on this anecdotal evidence.

    What I thought was very funny was that at the start of the Staten Island Half Marathon on Sunday, the race announcer several times referred to it as the Champion Chip, even though the last handful of NYRR races have been with D-tag. He finally corrected himself just after the start of the race.


    October 12, 2009 at 3:37 pm

  12. Just ran the Sunburst Marathon in South Bend IN with the D tag and there is no record of my having been there at all. Very unhappy. Never a problem with the ChampionChip in 11 previous marathons and numerous other races.


    June 17, 2010 at 10:34 am

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