Sectional Time Accuracy Explained

What Methods and Who provides the most accurate Sectional Times?

For a thorough explanation of the various sectional timing methodologies (and their pros and cons) employed throughout the world, please refer to our 11 page publication: Affordable , Accurate and Informative Sectional Timing, A Discussion Paper and Blueprint, 2014.

Punting Form (in association with ABettorEdge) utilises the manual frame by frame video analysis method. We are not interested in cloaking the method in 'mystique' or over-selling the accuracy of the sectional times we compile. Frame by Frame video analysis is a very straight forward task to perform with the downside being it is very labour intensive if wishing to cover every runner in a race (as we do). It is capable of producing very accurate sectional times under the right circumstances.

The key factors which have an influence on our accuracy include:

  • A video frame represents 0.04 seconds. This logically means the best we can achieve is an accuracy of plus or minus 0.04 seconds.
  • Accurate measuring and placement of 200m distance rail markers by race club staff.
  • Camera angles which produce a more side-on view as runners pass distance markers, enable a more accurate judgment on the part of our video analysis staff.
  • Our timing process requires human interaction with technology. As such, there will always be scope for human error. We have well trained and dedicated staff, supported by software written specifically for the task of compiling sectional times. This software has in-built error checking, designed to prompt staff when a time element falls outside of specified guidelines.

A key point to note here is the mention of camera angles. The accuracy of any organisation using broadcast race video to produce sectional times will be high for 'side-on' camera angles and gradually deteriorate to the point of basic 'estimation', as the camera angle becomes more "front on".

The main outcome we are looking for when compiling sectional times is consistency. A consistent approach produces sectional and 200m split time rankings which enable comparison of the energy distribution of runners, within and across the races of a particular meeting (regardless of any incorrect rail marker positions, difficult camera angles etc).