Timing on Parkruns

Just wondering how acurate the timing is on these parkruns....if you are right at the back of the pack and the siren goes off and you have to wait a couple of minutes for the front of the pack to get going before you can actually start to take a step, how is that an acurate time for your run.....if you had to wait a bit.... would like to know...

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  • I only have experience with the Oxford ParkRun, but I would say that their timing is pretty accurate. When the run begins, there is ample space for the group to spread out, meaning that everyone can start running at the same moment. So there is no time delay -- all can run from the very start. The distance from the back of the pack to the front is less than 5 meters, which is 0.1% of the 5000 meters that make up the 5km course.

    In a thirty minute run (i.e., 1800 seconds), this < 0.1% on the starting point translates into a variation of < 1.8 seconds on the final run time. Probably there is a larger variation from how you handle corners (on the inside or outside of the curve) during the run. And, of course, the human reaction time for things like hitting a stopwatch is about 0.3 seconds.

    Overall, I would estimate a +/- 3 second margin of error on their numbers. Which is pretty decent, I think.

    That said, if you had to stand around at your ParkRun and couldn't start until a couple of minutes later, then none of this applies and your time won't be accurate at all.

  • Yeah thats what I was wondering hopefully it wont be that full for first time...thanks IronMatt much appreciated....

    Pinkus :-)

  • Good question and a very thorough answer from ironmatt. I had thought about it too because my parkrun starts on a narrow series of paths and with 150 or so there is a bottleneck for a while until we get to the lower prom which is wider. I stand about the middle so do lose some time but the way I look at it it's the same disadvantage every week so each finish time is comparable.

  • Yeah glad you are on the same wavelength....as I think the path that the parkrun is on is a narrow path and is open to the public as well as we have been asked to giveway to them, so that got me thinking if there are loads of runners we wont be able to all start off at the same time as there wont be enough room....oh well will have to wait and see....thanks notbad for your comment...

  • If you are concerned by the accuracy of your Parkrun times then I suggest you do as I do and time yourself. Compare parkrun times with other parkrun times. Even if they are slightly inaccurate, it's still fun to have a whole set of stats to see how you are doing compared to others under the same conditions.

    i spose the inaccuracy is negligible in my case since my overall time is usually 45min+ and I'm usually competing for last place.

  • I've just read my Parkrun magazine, there is a post on it this month which made me gasp!!

    A lady took her two children along to see if they could run their local PR, they not only managed to run it all but did it in 35 minutes. Now some people may say "So what"! I think thats incredible, they are aged 7 & 5 years old!!!! Wow if thats them doing 5K at that age I wonder what they will be achieving in a few more years.

    ParkRun is for all ages so if you haven't tried it yet give it a go, its fun. I just hope you don't come across too many 5 or 7 year olds!! :)

  • I think the main reason I never got into running sooner was because of the competetive aspect of it at school. I remember I was the second faster kid at school on sportsday at junior school! Unfortunately I think I picked up negative feelings about it whilst at school and therefore always had a negative attitude towards it until four months ago. However I love running now and can't see myself ever not doing it in the future.

  • I'm sure at the level of running ability on here that a few seconds either way wont really matter. I think the only people it would matter to would be the ones who start at the front anyway. I did a 10k the other weekend and it was interesting to find there was an 7 min difference between the gun going off and my actual start time. There were however around 7000 people running I think!

  • Last time I went to watch one, they made the last runner cross the start line again, because something hadn't beeped, so it might actually be very accurate. My friend is timekeeper on 15 December, so might find out then how it works exactly!

  • I thought about this but it really doesn't matter to me. I'm so far behind everyone else that I'm just using it to improve my own times. If accurate timing is important to you or you want to see your achievements (always a confidence boost) then I would get a watch or timer of some sort. The fast people who start nearer the front on my local parkrun all seem to have their own watches to get their own times.

  • Yes Good idea I think....as I have noticed that there are a lot of people wearing those watches so they must do their own time as well.

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