How to time a variable start race

This article explains how to use RaceSplitter to races in which the time interval between starting races or waves is variable.

How to time variable-start races

RaceSplitter supports interval-start races, in which individuals or waves start at regular intervals—like every 30 seconds. What do you do when you need to start your racers manually?

In conjunction with the services at, you can now use RaceSplitter to time variable-start races, and works as follows:

  1. Rather than only timing the finish, you’ll be timing both the start and finish of each participant, creating two splits on the race — Split 1 (the start) and Split 2 (the finish).
  2. The website, knowing that the race is a variable-start race, will automatically subtract Split 1 from Split 2, thereby displaying the effective race time of each participant (or wave).


Timing procedure

  1. Visit and login to your account.
  2. Create a new race and configure it as a mass-start race.
  3. Download the race to at least two devices — one that will time that start, and one that will time the finish. (If your race is long enough, and you can get to the finish line with the starting device in time, you could also use just one device.)
  4. Start the timer on Devices 1 and 2 anytime before the first racer starts.
  5. With Device 1, time each racer as they start the race, creating Split 1 in RaceSplitter.
  6. With Device 2, time each racer as they finish the race, creating Split 2 in RaceSplitter.
  7. Publish the results from both devices to IMPORTANT! — In this type of race, it is critical that Device 1 publishes its results before Device 2.
  8. On the results page at, select Variable Start.
  9. At this point, will subtract Split 1 from Split 2, thereby displaying the effective race time of each participant.

Watch this two-minute video to see variable-start support in action.


Special notes

  • If you’re starting waves of racers together, simply add their bibs to the timing bar on Device 1 and time them all at once.
  • Nothing in this mode of timing precludes you from using additional devices to time other intermediate points on the course. will always subtract the first from the last split’s times.
  • You can time the race start and finish with the same, or different devices.

Scenarios & examples


This article explains how to use RaceSplitter to time a triathlon.

Timing 5k and 10k races together

This article discusses the considerations involved in a common timing scenario—5k and 10k running races, ran together in a single event.

Variable start races

This article explains how to time races in which the start interval between participants or waves is variable.

Complex Multi-Race Event

This blog article explains how we organized the timing of a multi-day, multi-race and multi-split ultra event using RaceSplitter.

How to time ties & groups

This blog article explains how we organized the timing of a multi-day, multi-race and multi-split ultra event using RaceSplitter.

Complex Wave Starts

This article explains how we helped a customer setup timing for a complex wave-start event.

Relay Races & Team Events

This article discusses considerations related to timing relay races and team events.

Multi-heat regatta

This article discusses timing of a multi-heat boat regatta.

We’re here to help!

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