We all compete in athletics for the love of the sport, or at least the majority of us do! This is also true of the thousands of volunteers that contribute event-on-event, year-on year. There are mulitple behind-the-scenes tasks that need to be completed for even the most simple of events. The most obvious of these include entries and results, but there are plenty more including seeding, team scores, field cards, etc.
1 Why it started
Within many sports these procedures have advanced with new technology to become more streamlined and efficient. With the exception of mass participation road races, athletics has remained stagnant for years. Events ranging from local club meetings through to national level competitions create unnecessary effort for hard-working volunteers and generate a poorer experience for both fans and competitors.
This became evident to one of OpenTrack’s board directors, Andy Robinson, when competing in the World Masters in 2015. It was here, at an international level competition, that he noticed that all results on the day were only available as a spreadsheet that was belatedly posted on a notice board.
This was true of the sport from the grassroots up, for both entries and results; athletics was in need of a new system to revolutionise it and to provide an improved service.
It was from here that OpenTrack began. Formed by Andy Robinson & Andy Weir, two Thames Hare & Hounds Veterans, experienced athletes and regular volunteers within the local grassroots scene, they identified the problems in the sport and began to create the solution: OpenTrack.
2 First Steps
The first development that was initiated and that has been in place for the past three years is the Entry System for UK events. This was the logical first step; entries are the first process involved in an athletics competition. This has been an overwhelming success with six of the neighboroughing counties along with many individual clubs using OpenTrack’s system for X-Country, relays, road races and track & field meetings. These three years have seen nearly 45,000 entries across over 200 events. Feedback has been very positive and helps to improve what we are doing.
Example of a “good” written entry declaration
Aside from the obvious benefit of digitising the entries, this also enables easy editing, online payments, instantaneous license checking, bib allocation and much more. All of these features have been designed to ease volunteer workload.
Alongside our Entry System, we also began working with the Surrey League, the local X-Country competition. It was here that the first results system was created with the aim of providing individual & team scores immediately. This was hugely successful and a great hit with volunteers and local athletes, who could view their and their team’s performances as soon as they had finished the race.
Results Capture evolved from the system used with the Surrey League and has the primary aim of displaying the results of all athletics competitions online as soon as possible, once the match official has marked them as official. Event and competitor entry can all be done quickly and efficiently, whilst the results themselves can be inputted instantaneously. This can be done manually or automatically using electronic timing systems such as FinishLynx or TimeTronics.
The Competition Management System goes beyond the combination of Entry System & Results Capture in that it allows complete management of the meeting, including features such as athlete seeding. This has been successfully used in events such as Highgate’ Night of the 10,000m PBs, the Loughborough International and Watford Open Meetings.
Finally, we have been working closely with various federations including Estonia, Cyprus, Malta & Belarus to create independent Federation Management Systems. These systems allow them to management of all athletes, clubs and competitions. We are working hard to bring more federations on board with these systems.
4 Moving Forward
The progression of OpenTrack has been very quick, from its inception through to now. It started as an idea, a solution to an on-going issue, and in the three years since it has progressed to four reputable, efficient and effective systems that have been assisting athletics organisers to streamline their events and modernise them with new technology.
We are looking for new meetings, counties and organisers to work with so if you would like to try the system or have a demonstration on how it can help you then please contact us.