What exactly is RFID Timing?


RFID stands for Radio-Frequency IDentification. These are essentially small electronic devices that consist of a small chip and an antenna that participants wear. On the finish line sits a detector and decoder, which receives and processes the chip as it passes.

RFID Timing comes in various form-factors; most commonly split between single-use and disposable.


An example of a single-use RFID application would be the race bib pictured above. On the reverse of the race bib, covered by foam pads for protection, are two RFID chips/antennas. To ensure world-class detection rates, we only supply dual-chip bibs. This level of detection is good for events from a few participants up to 10’s of thousands. Another example of single use RFID tags would be shoe-lace tags. This are small lightweight plastic tags that thread into shoe laces.

An example of reusable RFID  tags are the arm/ankle tags pictured above. These are essentially the same technology, but packed into a sturdy, 100% waterproof plastic housing. These tags are used both on running, cycling and most popular for triathlons.

RFID Timing System

RFID Timing System

RFID Decoders

On the finish line, and perhaps at interim/transition checkpoints, sit the RFID  detector and decoders. Our decoders are professional, and waterproof. Finish line detectors for running events are most commonly heavy duty plastic mats (the aerial) around 5m wide which sit underneath the start/finish line arch/gantry. They can also be free-standing aerial structures which sit roadside, or lightweight cables which are taped down across a road. Which is used depends entirely on your individual requirements, and sometimes the geography or restrictions placed on you by land owners.

The decoder runs off a mains, or battery supply. It can be connected directly to a laptop, store data on a USB drive, or it can be fitted with a 3G SIM card. Where internet access is possible, the data is sent live to the results website for immediate viewing.

When timing is critical to your event, no matter if it’s a local 10k or national event, your reputation is on the line. Reliable timing is priceless, and you only get one chance to get it right. It’s money well spent. Cutting costs on timing and opting not to use an RFID system like the ones we hire could end in loss of results/data and reputation damage. We offer the highest detection rates, so accept no substitute for timing. Our RFID system is world-class, and used in international marathons, Sportives and Triathlons all over the world.

Our advice is always free.  Get in touch and tell us about your event.