Readers Write: Turkey Trot rules are for the birds

The Island Now

After moving to Port Washington four years ago, the annual Turkey Trot has become a tradition in our family and one we look forward to every year. 

This year, as in the past, my kids looked me up to tell me I had placed second in my age group. 

However, on further research, we realized I had actually placed fifth, according to my “GunTime,” and only placed second, according to my “NetTime.”  

It didn’t make sense to me so I did a little research into the scoring system, since participants were not informed about how their times would be recognized in any of the entrant information or details about the race.

Runners in a chip-timed race, which are used by most road races these days, usually have two sets of times, which are called GunTime and NetTime.

In many running events, organizations give each registrant a “chip time” with a radio frequency identification chip adhered to the back of their bib number, a starting line mat and a finish line mat.

Each finisher receives a NetTime that “starts” when you cross the starting mats, “StartTime,” and “finishes” when you cross the finish mats, FinishTime.  

When you cross the starting line, the mats activate the chip and read its unique code from antennas embedded within the mats. 

The time of day is recorded and paired with your chip code and stored in a special computer box called a decoder that is attached to the mats. 

The same exact thing happens at the finish line as the exact global positioning system time of day is recorded when you cross the line.

Each finisher also gets a GunTime.  

This time starts when the starting device, gun, air horn, voice command, is implemented to begin the race, regardless how long it takes the participant to get to the actual starting line.  

I learned that the Port Washington Community Chest determines its Turkey Trot winners by GunTime.

You have to physically cross the Finish line before someone else in order to be recognized as the winner, even if you have run a full minute faster than them.  

This was not publicized anywhere but now I know for next year. 

Though you have to wonder why they have a chip system if they don’t use it in any official capacity.

And to all those looking to place first, second or third — make sure you get to the front of the race.


Faith Paris

Port Washington 

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