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Time Conversion

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Time Conversion

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  • I am running a meet and noticed that some of the tims are converted by adding .24.  Is there any way to turn off that feature?

  • If you are running the meet on a Fully Automatic Timing system (FAT) then make sure either your uploaded results are noted as Automatic or your manually entered times are followed with an "a" (eg. 23.09a).  If your results are hand-timed then the typical conversion is to round up to the nearest 10th of a second, then in any race under 400m (except the 300m hurdles) you add .24 seconds.  If the race is 300 hurdles or the 400m you add only .14, and if it is 600m+, you just leave it rounded with no additional time.  Hope this helps you out a bit.

    Life is full of hurdles...and NONE are impossible.

    Sam Barlow High School

  • Any way to disable this function?

    I have to say, it's rather annoying when most of the high school seeds that we will see are hand times, and hosts can't count on every attending coach to add an "a" after each entry to avoid auto-conversion.

    Moreover, the 0.14 / 0.24 "conversion factor" is bogus.  You can't simply convert inaccurate hand times into accurate FAT times.  And, on average, the difference in time is typically more like 0.4 seconds for a typical mom and dad on the finish line at your local high school meet.  And although 0.14 is on the books for longer races, the distance has nothing to do with starting/stopping your watch late.  5k times are just as likely to be off by 0.3-0.4 as your 100m times...they just don't matter as much.

    Anyway, having the option as a host to turn off this auto-converter would be nice (if it's not already there). Smile

  • The 0.14 vs. 0.24 should be for distance from the start, not length of the race.  5k is a half-lapper and would be 0.24, whereas 10k is an even lap and would be 0.14, same as the 400 and 800.

    However, the convention is to not even convert distance times for display, which I strongly disagree with.  Those hundredths are just as meaningful there as for the sprints, just they don't decide the order of finish nearly as often.  League lists are regularly out of order because unconverted distance hand times are placed ahead of faster auto times.


  • The National Federation handbook states that when converting hand times to FAT to round up to the nearest tenth, and then to add .24.  There is no distinction made at all about the length of the race.

  • Our league just experienced its first FAT meet, and the question of records has come up - where a "slower" FAT time calculates to be faster than an adjusted hand time. With school and league records,  how have others dealt with the overlap?  Just to make up an example, an existing girls 4x100m relay school record of 51.1 and an FAT new time of 51.23.  Do you keep the 51.1 alone or co-list it with the 51.23, that is, both are listed as records?  Our thinking was to reject rewriting the original as 51.24c.   

    I can foresee the likelihood of such co-existing records multiplying, particularly as handtiming may still be maintained at the majority of our meets. What have others done? 

    Bruce Carrick

  • Bill, interesting, I hadn't caught that.  I'm curious if that's a NFHS oversight or an intentional departure from convention?

    Bruce, 51.23 is without question superior to 51.1, so it should be the record.  The auto time is "slower" because it has human (timer) reaction time figured in, whereas the hand time does not.  Furthermore, hand times are notoriously and wildly inaccurate, so the benefit of the doubt always goes to the auto time.


  • I assumed the .14 conversion by distance because of the conversion that uses on their races.  I am interested as to why, then, some races convert .24 and other convert .14

    Life is full of hurdles...and NONE are impossible.

    Sam Barlow High School

  • The convention, as I understand it, per Track & Field News and other statistical sources that have done the research, is:

    100m start = 0.24

    200/3k start = 0.24

    300/1500m start = 0.14

    400/800/10k start = 0.14

    As you can see from the distances, the adjustment does not go up with the length of the race.  It wouldn't make any sense to, as the reaction time does not change accordingly...  Human reaction time is fixed.  The adjustments are based on distance from gun to timer, with the 300m start being deemed close enough to have the same adjustment as the 400m start.  I've always thought that to be odd (why not a 0.19 adjustment?), but that's what the research has shown to be appropriate.

    Having said that, I have seen the 3k get 0.14 adjustments, and the distances commonly do not get adjusted even though they have adjusted qualifying standards, so the issue quickly gets clouded.  If that's not bad enough, look at this USATF qualifying page, where 3k's have adjusted hand/auto times but the 5k's do not, despite using the same start:


  • Dan,

    Thank you for taking the time to reply, I really appreciate dialog on this subject. 

    So I followed the link in your post and scrolled down a bit and saw this

    "Manual times will be converted for seeding purposes using USATF Rule 76."

    I did a search for Rule 76 at the USATF site and the only thing I could come up with was this

    For seeding purposes only, the conversion factor of .24 seconds ((in events up to and including the 200 Meter Dash and .14 seconds for events longer than the 200 and up to and including the 400 Meter Dash)) between fully automatic time and manual time must be used …

    which was from a 2002 proposed rule change.  When I went to the link for Competition Rules, I was directed to a 278 page .pdf file which skips from Rule 32 to Rule 110.  Do you (or anyone else) have a link to where I can view Rule 76?

    Up until now the only thing I've been able to find that's been concrete was from the National Federation of State High School Associations "Track & Field and Cross Country" Rules Book.  Under Rule 3, Section 9, Article 4 it says this

    If FAT and manual times must be integrated, the hand-held times shall first be rounded up to the slower one-tenth of a second.  Then a conversion factor of .24 must be added (i.e., MT + .24 = FAT).

    I feel like I'm beating a dead horse here and I really don't want to come across as being combative or argumentative at all, so I'm very sorry if it seems like I am.  I'm in the process of trying to clean up my High School's record board which is a mix of hand times and automatic times, and I really just want to make sure our board shows records correctly.  Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks again.


  • With regards to current Fully automated times (FAT), and past Hand times as they relate to High School Records.

    I believe 2 sets of records should exist - Where past hand timed records are preserved and new FAT records will be set and updated accordingly.

    Example: In 1999, Joe from Small-town High school set the School 100M Dash record at Regionals with a time of 10.81 BUT  it was Broken in 2013 by Todd at an away dual meet with an 11.12 FAT time. Considering some of the information below, would you still replace the hand timed record, keep 2 sets of records, give the two runners a co-record of 11.12? What would you do? We had this happen at our school and it's a topic of debate.

    How the time was converted:  Joe, the  current Record Holder of 100M Dash - 10.81 (originally hand timed)  The first conversion uses two steps. First, take your hand time and round up to the nearest tenth. Second, add .24 seconds ( rounded 100M Dash time of 1.) 10.84 ^ to 10.90   2.)10.90 + .24 = 11.14). Now you have your equivalent FAT of 11.14 from a hand time of 10.81. So in this example, you've actually added .33 seconds to your 100M Dash time. Many believe that you should add as much as 4. or four tenths to hand times.

    (Joe's race was hand timed using a starter gun to start all watches and individual timers assigned to his lane stopped the watch at 10.81 as he crossed in lane 6. He placed 3rd, but the 2nd place runner and Joe were neck and neck at the line. It should be noted that 2nd place was given a time of 10.72 and Joe's coaches timed him at 10.72 & 10.74 respectively, but the recorded time is final. It was fair weather.. no wind) 

    (Todd's new record was set at an away dual meet with FAT systems. He took first place and eclipsed his previous best time by .4 4 tenths of a second. So did most every other runner that day. There was a strong wind at their back, but they took no wind readings. He ran never within 2 tenths of that time again in his jr or sr year.)


    1.)  When Hand times are SLOWER - It is widely sited, noted and easily observed that hand times are subject to human error as an individual starts and stops his/her watch most often resulting in a faster time compared to the FAT of the very same race and furthermore that FAT is by all means slower than hand times now or in the past. However this lacks accuracy when you start comparing hand times in the past of a different runner to FAT of a runner now. The conversions are based on the assumption (there is currently no significant empirical data) that FAT conversion to hand times are between .24-40 seconds. I personally believe it to be around .3-.4 seconds but don't believe you can convert times to serve as Records. These conversions began based on human error that hand times are much faster than  FAT.  It seems, scientifically speaking, if you are adding time because of human error you can't rule out subtracting time in certain situations either. For instance, when an individual timer assigned to a lane, loses the runner in a group that crosses at the same time or simply presses the stopwatch late. A record was set, but more than likely it was faster than what was recorded.

     FAT timing is the superior timing system, specifically with regard to reporting, conserving and comparing other accurate FAT data across multiple sites and venues to ensure a uniform process is in place. (Times recorded at Hundreds and thousands of High School Tracks across Michigan and the United States can be compared with relative ease. There is however, a factor of wind and additional elements which should be addressed). However, I believe this is the standard, but with regards to conversations.... they shouldn't happen.    

  • I couldn't agree more that hand times need to be adjusted to take human reaction time delay into consideration.  I've just been having a heck of a time trying to find one definitive standard to use to clean up our record board.  Thank you again for your time and input. 


  • On the topic of school records, coaches generally have quite a bit of discretion.  Including both hand and FAT times, where appropriate, increases the likelyhood that a legit FAT time will not someday, by superseeded by an unrounded and inaccurate hand time. For example, you have an athlete run 10.99 FAT...then 5 years later, Joe Blow interim-coach has an athlete who runs a 10.98 hand time (probably on a windy day), and knocks the legit record holder off the board forever.

    Generally, what I try to do is list both if I have them (and they are comparable).  If an FAT is faster (at face value), that is the record, and I clearly list it as FAT.  If the hand time is faster, then I list the hand time, plus I list the fastest known FAT time, as long as it is within .4 - .5 seconds.

    For example, our 100m school record : Mark Lewis 10.6h  (Athlete was Class B state champ w/ that time, 1984).  Co-holder: Trey Davidson 10.6h (run at invite.  athlete was 4th in Class A state finals in 2004).  Fastest known FAT, listed as co-record-holder: Ted Adams, 10.97 FAT, time was set winning Class B State championship in 1990.  All three athletes ran comparable times and had comparable success at state finals.  Without  specific wind information, how can you really differentiate between them?  You can' can only guess, so it's better to list them all until there is something definatively better.  That said, the sprints can be tricky in a cold-weather state, like Michigan, because it's unlikely that most schools would have someone run 10.59 FAT, but in most events, you can clean things up over time as you we see more and more FAT times (we now use FAT for all our home dual meets, but implementation is slow in our state).

    On the topic of conversion factors in general...

    From Jeff Hollobaugh (Michigan Stats Guru, Maintains, Former Track & Field News & ESPN reporter)....
    The 0.24 figure comes from a single study done at the 1972 Munich Olympics.  The study compared the official FAT times to the backup times provided by professional timers.  The AVERAGE (ie sometimes closer than 0.24 to accurate, sometimes, farther than 0.24 from accurate) was 0.24 faster than the accurate FAT times.  A couple things to consider...first of all, this was the Olympic games, and these were EXPERT timers.  Good timers are generally "slow" timers.  When you have mom and dad timing at the local high school dual meet, they are generally going to be "faster" and less consistent than trained/experienced experts.  Secondly, to my knowledge, nobody else has bothererd to do any other significant studies on the topic.  The conversion factor was adopted by T&F News and has trickled down into the various rule books without anyone asking why.  According to Hollobaugh, the 0.14 factor  for races with a common start/finish line was created by T&F News, most likely with no research to back it up.  How far you are away from the start line has little to do with you seeing the starting flash.  You still have to react to the start and react to the finish, which gives the hand timers two instances to be inaccurate...and that doesn't take into account that many timers just aren't paying close enough attention to do a good job on anything other than first place.

    More numbers stuff - Hollobaugh has also run numbers comparing results from several state finals here in Michigan.  He compared the FAT times to the backup hand times, and found an average of about 0.4 seconds.  He also added that there was at least once instance where  the winner of the 1600m run at the state finals had a 0.6 second discrepancy between the official FAT time and his hand time.  In this scenario, we are not talking about expert Olympic timers, but it is the state finals, and we do run pretty decent state meets here.  I have to assume our state timers are certainly better on average than the typical timers we see at most of our high school meets.  If the average state meet timer was 0.4 seconds off, there is no way I would ever consider 0.24 (much less 0.14) to be a reasonable "conversion."  Really, you can't convert, but it is important for us to be able to compare.  Personally, I know I am "usually" around 0.3 seconds fast, with a range of 0.25-0.35 being pretty typical.  When we are at meets with hand timing, I try to keep a watch on most of my kids because the stats are important to me, and that gives more consistancy to our times (though it may not be more accurate).  Having my own times, I can reasonably "compare" times that are within 0.3 seconds of FAT, but I try to keep both for our kids.  When it comes to records, I can't say I was present when every record was set, so I maintain a larger window of 0.4-0.5 seconds if both hand and FAT times are to be considered together.

    By the way, based on the information above, the coaches in our state coaches association (MITCA) voted in overwhelming support of several initiatives designed to increase the use of FAT timing in our state and also gradually transition toward that goal.  One of the transition steps including a provision to use 0.4 seconds as the "conversion" factor to be used for seeding and qualification times.  Our committee that put this together felt that 0.4 is a more accurate representation of the typical difference that we see between hand times and FAT in real-world situations.  Furthermore, we felt that if there was to be perceived "advantage," then the advantage must go to the FAT time because it is actually accurate, and there also needs to be some sort of incentive to push toward wider FAT use, otherwise, nobody would ever want to.  Personally, I'll take a kid that runs 11.24 over a kid that runs 11.0 in a heartbeat.  I'd bet the 11.24 kid will beat the 11.0 kid 8 out of 10 times.  On the other hand, if I am at a regional meet, and my athlete has to run either 11.0h or 11.24FAT to qualify to the state meet, I don't want to be at a region that uses FAT.  11.0 vs. 11.40?  I'll take the FAT and be happy that the time is accurate, even if there was a possibility that we "could have" had a generous timer at a hand-timed region.


    All that aside...I still hope we can get the option to turn off the auto-conversion factor for next season.  We ran two big meets this year using, and I was very happy with most aspects of the program, but I spent several hours "un-converting"  hand-times that were auto-converted.  Not everyone wants to use the site for universal stats, but it is a great (free / low-cost) meet-management tool.

  • I love Hollobough!  Derek thanks for posting.  His site is at

  • if my athlete runs 11.11, I round up to 11.2 and +.24..... what do i do if he runs 11.00? do i add .1 then add .24?

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