Candi Murray, the pillar of Oregon bicycle racing, let me in on the process of scoring the Cross Crusade races. It’s a labor intensive undertaking that requires plenty of work during the races and some more work after everyone has gone home. The culmination of this undertaking is full scoring from first to last of a host of potentially muddy cyclocross racers.

Essential Elements:

  • FinishLynx camera
  • Two laptops — one for scoring (Excel workbook) and one for the FinishLynx
  • Clipboards and scoring sheets
  • Five or six dedicated officials
  • Coffee

The big Portland area series is the Cross Crusade. However, there are a few more races not affiliated with the series and to ease scoring, they have agreed to use the Crusade bib numbers. Starting with the Kruger’s Kermesse in September, OBRA starts building a racer database. This Excel file begins with the number series for each category and the officials populate it with riders names over the course of the season. Within a few races, most of the regular racers are in the file.

On race day, Candi copies the most up to date roster into a new Excel workbook. The workbook has several worksheets, the most notable being the “Lap Positions” and “Results.” During each race, there are three or four people with clipboards with lots of lap position sheets. They record, in order, each rider as they pass the finish. After each lap, they give the lap sheet(s) to an official who then enters the information into the Lap Positions Excel worksheet.

Aside: I actually tried to record lap positions at a non-Crusade race a few years ago. There were perhaps 90 racers on the course at once. It was extremely hard to record everyone, especially when racers came past in clumps. The folks who do this regularly are awesome. They can record everyone and know exactly when the leaders are coming through even when folks started getting lapped.

The Excel workbook has a macro that translates the lap positions into results, sorted by category and total laps. In the best of all possible worlds, these would be the final results. However, officials reviews the results and check for discrepancies in lap counts or overall position from lap to lap to attempt to catch scoring mistakes.

So where does the camera come in?

Each race is also recorded by the FinishLynx camera. The camera takes little slice photos and then strings them together. Thus, each race looks like a continuous ribbon of racers crossing the finish line. An official creates a FinishLynx file for each race of the day. If you want to know exactly how the FinishLynx works, their web site has an excellent PowerPoint presentation for scoring cycling events. Using the FinishLynx software, an official tries to mark the front of each rider’s wheel as it crosses the line on each lap and then enter the rider number. Usually it’s not possible to mark all the riders at the event since there just isn’t enough time during a race.

If an official finds a discrepancy in the results or a racer contests the results, she can review the photo record of the race to confirm overall position throughout the race. If all the riders in a race get marked, the timing data can be exported to the Excel workbook (lif file) which will allow officials to harvest lap times for all the racers

Lets do a little math — 800 racers doing an average of five laps means marking and entering 4,000 riders per Crusade race. That’s a lot of work to harvest lap times!

I know that all of you OBRA people out there greatly appreciate the timely and accurate results produced by the OBRA team. And you will all remember to be courteous and patient when contacting officials regarding a potential scoring error.

One Response to “How do you score a cross race?”

  1. Jonathan M. Rosen says:

    Here in Buffalo, NY, we use CrossMgr software ( to score all of our club and USAC races; road, criterium, time trial and cyclo-cross. Using CrossMgr, we can publish race results live on the Internet and provide printed results as soon as races end.

    For our faster road/criterium races on dry roads, we have active J-Chip ( RFID tags that work with a 40-ft. mat and 8-channel receiver. The J-chips catch every rider going over the mat and CrossMgr displays those results real-time. For cyclo-cross races, we run CrossMgr without chips, simply entering bib numbers as riders cross the line. We recently scored 45 racers in a 9-lap (60 minute) race and got every rider on every lap using just one number caller, even when groups of four riders passed the finish simultaneously.

    For high speed races with chips, we use a digital camera to review the finish and adjust any close finishes. This is necessary because the chip records the time only once as it passes the mat, so the recorded chip time may not occur when the bike is exactly centered on the mat. We typically rely on photo for adjustment when the gap between riders is less than 6-inches at the finish line or two riders have the same chip time, matching to the hundredth of a second.

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