Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dare to be FIT N RIGHT - Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

RFID Timing Device - Strip adhesively attached to a harp plastic

RFID Plastic Strip - attached by two staple wires to race bib

I had my race packet collected by a messenger for the “Dare to be FIT ‘N RIGHT Fun Run 2009” (FNR 2009) scheduled for Sunday 22N0v09. I was not expecting anything special about this race as the event primarily covers the 3/5/10k distances which was even tagged by the organizers as “fun runs”.

When the race packet was handed to me, I was surprised that on the race bib was stapled a RFID .... Radio Frequency Identification. This means that the 10k (I do not know about the 3k and 5k) are provided with a “timing device” know as RFID.

This year introduced to the local running scene the “Championship Chip” a timing device that you attach to your shoe lace which will provide you with your actual running time and with different analysis incorporated into the system. The technology has been used in about 4 or 5 races with satisfactory feedback. However, to this date the brand “Championship Chip” is locally covered by an organization wherein Coach Rio Dela Cruz and Vince Mendoza are behind.

Now enters a new competitive technology “Radio Frequency Identification” (RFID) which is widely used in the United States Marathons ( LA Marathon / Seattle Rock and Roll Marathon to name only two) but the RFID they are using falls under the brand name of “D-Tag” wherein the chips are embedded on a waterproof strip that you attach to your shoe lace forming a “D” figure thus the brand name of “D-Tag”.

For the FNR 2009, the paper strip containing the chip technology was adhesively attached to a hard plastic strip which was attached to the race bib by two staple wires. I do not wish to be unreceptive of this technology but only on the manner it is being used. I like only to highlight the disadvantage of the manner the system was deployed. First, the chip could easily “fall-off” and get lost in the process of a running event. There are only two staple wires holding the device to the race bib which as we all know, becomes less robust as you perspire and have the bib wet either by perspiration or hydration fluids. Second, it is inviting cheaters to do their thing. Third, the distance from the chest and the timing mat will be subject to possible error. All three of my apprehensions could have been easily addressed by either (a) using the same system as “D-Tag” attaching the timing strip on the shoes for better signal with the timing mat and discouraging possible cheaters or (b) having the timing strip EMBEDDED on the race bib, eliminating the risk of having the timing strip detached and getting lost as well as discouraging cheaters.

RFID Plastic Strip attached to Race Bib .... attached to Race Shirt

The RDID system is not a new technology. It has proven its worth and advantage particular in COST which makes it popular to race organizers. I have even used the same system on events I have participated in the States. It is now up to the FNR 2009 Race Organizers and their technical staff to prove their capability in using this “tool” to their advantage and ultimate benefit of the runner.

By the way, when I received the race packet there was no accompanying information sheet regarding the “plastic strip” attached to the race bib. This is already inviting “problem” as I doubt if ordinary runners are aware of what is the purpose of the same and how to ensure that the strip does not get detached from the race bib.

Anyways, for bringing this new technology to the local scene, I congratulate the race organizers and wish all the success of the timing device on tomorrows’ FNR 2009. We should get the outcome by tomorrow late morning.

See you at the starting line and DO NOT DETACH the RFID on your race bib!!!!!


  1. That's a surprise Sir they didn't mention they'd have RFID. Too bad though many runners didn't get their kits on time (including myself). What good is a fancy RFID if you don't have your kit hours before gun start?

  2. Dear Dhenztm - You said it right! On the race day it was chaos due to registration and collection of race packet delaying start of the race. I am posting an evaluation of the race later.