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RACE DIRECTORS! Reserve your crew for your 2020 event NOW!

Pretzel City Sports is now taking timing reservations for 2020 events. This fall, we have 3 dates that are 100% booked and for which we had to turn work away. We expect that the same thing could happen in the Spring of 2020, despite us having more crews than almost any timer in the East.… Continue Reading



Basic Timing, Promotion & Design Help Package

Of the 400+ races that PCS times annually, 95%+ of them are timed using our manual method; the rest are timed with a disposable chip system. Regardless of how we time an event, PCS provides each and every race a ton of additional FREE services, unmatched in the race timing industry. They include: 

Race Design Assistance:  

  • Unlimited phone & email consulting on race issues; design, scheduling, pricing, awards, course selection, etc.
  • Templates for designing a race application, a sponsorship campaign & tracking entries; each a HUGE time savers!
  • Sources for “low cost” providers of bibs, safety pins, awards, insurance, etc. 
  • Online registration set-up for payment via credit card at no cost to you and with us doing all the setup.  
  • Free review of your race application/brochure before it goes to print to detect things that may hurt the race’s marketability or administration. 

Race Day Services:

  • Time each runner, post their time & finish place on a finish board and determine the award winners.
  • Supply digital clocks, start/finish line banners, chutes, timers, portable sound system; all battery operated. 
  • Manage the 3-5 volunteers you supply to assist us with the finish line, more for larger races. 
  • Preside, to the degree the race desires, over the race starting line activities and the awards ceremony.
  • Post the results on sometime on the 1st business day after the race-displayed there for the next 3 years. 

Race Promotion: (upon request and if needed materials are supplied by the race):

  • Provide you a “snail mail” list of runners in your area, including how often they race, from our 80, 000+ runner list. 
  • Broadcast a free eBlast that you write about your race to the 35,000+ runners on our email list. 
  • Display your race application, upon receipt, at the over 400 events a year that PCS times.
  • Add your basic race information to PCS’s online calendar; over 3/4 of a million visitors to site annually.
  • Post your race application form on PCS’s online Race Application page for runners to see and download.
  • Highlight your race the last 2 weeks before race day in PCS’s weekly Run Update to 35,000+ runners.
  • Provide you addresses for approx 100 running stores, run clubs & run periodicals so you can notify them about your race.

Click here for an expanded description of our promotional tools that come FREE with our timing and are purchasable by other events too. 


Types of Timing Provided by PCS and Fees

The sections below give a general overview of how we time and what it costs. To find out exactly what your event will cost to time, contact Pretzel City Sports at 610-779-2668 or “click here” to email us.  Our office is fully staffed from 8 AM to 4 PM every weekday, but because we are partially staffed till 8 PM the same days, calls are welcomed at just about any time.

There are 3 types of timing provided by PCS. The size and complexity of your event, to a large degree, dictates the best option for you to select. They are as follows:


The lowest priced option we offer and the method most used to time small to midsized races (approx 500 entries or below, more for longer distances).  With manual timing, we hit “enter” (and bib number, if visible) into our Time Machine as each runner crosses the finish line, which records their time and their finish place. Finishers then proceed down a chute where, at the end, we take their tear off tag that has already been filled out by you and post it on our results board in the order of finish. Periodically, the times recorded so far are displayed on that board so that runners can match up their finish place with the time for that finish place (our “instant results” process).  They can also calculate where they finished in their age group. Awards are manually determined from the sex & gender on the tear off tags and we’re normally ready to announce them by the time that the last runner finishes.  PCS provides 2 trained staff members for this type of timing, with the race providing 3-5 volunteers needed when the running actually starts.    

Fee: PCS’s price depends on the length of the race & the 1-way travel time from our office to the race, as calculated by Our fee is $550 for a 5k or less within a 20 minute one way drive from our office. For each additional 20 minutes of 1-way travel time, the fee goes up another $50; i.e races in Limerick, Ephrata, etc. cost $600 while those in Norristown, Lebanon, etc, cost $650. For 1-way drives over 1 hr, add $25 to the $650 fee for each additional 20 minutes of 1-way drive time; i.e Doylestown and Harrisburg are $675 while Flemington NJ would be $700. . For a race longer than 5k, add $25 to this cost for each additional 5k or portion thereof over the initial 5k; 5 milers/10k’s are $25 more, 15k’s would be $50 more, etc. Other fees may apply for multiple race distances held at the same time, unique award categories, starting lines and finish lines that are more than 100 yards apart or inaccessible by vehicle.    

Our fee covers the first 350 finishers that are individually timed in the main event and then, you pay 75 cents per additional finisher over that. Our base fee ALSO covers another non-competitive “fun run” event of a lesser distance starting anytime within 1/2 hour of the main event or within 15 minutes after the main event is done. For this “fun run” event, we don’t time the finishers, calculate award winners or post their results; THAT constitutes a 2nd event for which there is a nominal fee. Instead, we keep our finish line up when possible and reset our clocks for that event so that those runners & walkers can see their time when they come across the finish line. But because they do not receive “full” timing services, these finishers do not count toward the 350 finisher limit that triggers extra charges.  


For slightly larger races, PCS can use a “multiple chute” system. This works the same way as the single chute method except that when the first chute fills to the point where additional finishers would back up over the finish line (which happens when runners enter the front of the chute faster than we can take the tags at the back of the chute), we close that chute and direct them into a 2nd chute. If that chute backs up toward the finish line, it too is closed and new finishers are directed into chute 1, which should now be empty. The tags for the 1st chute are put on the results board, the tags for the 2nd chute are then put on and then the tags for the new people entering the 1st chute are put on. This replicates the actual order of finish. If a LOT of people are expected to finish during the “peak” time of the race, a 3rd or 4th chute may be necessary since the 1st chute may not empty quick enough.  Almost without fail, a 3 chute system will avoid any chance that runners will have to be directed into chute 1 before it is empty.  We have even successfully timed a 5k with almost 1200 finishers using a 4 chute manual method. In a multiple chute system, 2 additional Pretzel City timers must be sent for each additional chute; this is NOT something that we can train your inexperienced volunteers to administer on the spot. This multiple chute method was the method used for ALL major races (Boston, NY Marathon, Philly Half, for example) until chip timing was invented. 

Fee: PCS’s base fee is calculated the same way as the “single chute” method and covers the first 350 finishers. Then, we add $325 to that figure for each additional chute required.


For larger races, races with wave starts or with transition points such as Duathlons or Triathlons, chip timing is almost a must!  With chip timing, we give you an adhesive-backed  “chip” to put on the back of each bib issued. That chip’s radio signal is specific to that bib number: the number of that chip must match the number of the bib it is put on. Also, a list of runners and their assigned bibs must be supplied to PCS a few days before the race. When runners start a race, they cross a mat that records the time that they actually crossed the starting line, via the radio signal specific to that bib. When they get to the finish line, they cross a mat that does the same thing; records their finish time using the radio signal. The time that they start the race is subtracted from the time when they finish the race, giving them their “adjusted finish time”.  For even less, we can just time them using the same technology at the finish line and save you money versus the “adjusted finish time” method. This lower costing method, listing a “finish time only”,   is especially appealing when all your participants will cross the start line in a matter of seconds.  

There are lots of benefits to timing with disposable chips. There is no need to collect the chips afterwards, the order of finish cannot be altered by people passing others in the chute, results are normally calculated a bit faster, the results are posted online within 1-2 hours and runners can see detailed info on their performance upon finishing (pace per mile, age group ranking, etc).  In addition, the number of volunteers you need to supply PCS reduces to 1 or 2 at most. In bigger events or events with a narrow starting area, the time that it takes runners farther back to get to the actual starting line can be significant. The “adjusted finish time” method will give runners a truer picture of what their time for that distance actually is.

Because the equipment used to do all this costs substantially more than our manual timing equipment, PCS’s rate for such timing usually is about twice what we charge for manual timing. PCS also bills for a minimum entry level of 200 entries if the race is within a 1 1/2 hr one way drive from our office; no minimum entry level exists for manual timing. Because such timing does cost a bit more, PCS urges events to ONLY consider chip timing if it is a necessity, since that differential can have a significant impact on your race’s profitability.

The systems are also not failsafe; although our failure rate is almost nonexistent. Any mistake in the database (wrong name, sex and age for that bib, missing or no info for that runner, etc) can render this method’s results worthless. A person that wears the bib of someone else can also impact the results; a situation that is often easier to detect using a manual system. Also, the system is very dependent on electronic devices that rarely fail but when they do, the impact is catastrophic. For that reason, Pretzel City Sports is one of the very few timing companies that also manually records the approximate times of each finisher as a backup to the chip system, so that, in a worst case scenario, at least the bib numbers and their corresponding times can be captured and published.  


Fee: While our manual timing is based on the number of finishers, much more of the chip timing work is done “up front” so your fee is based on the number of entries, since regardless of whether an entry shows up that day or not, the work has already been done and their chip has been applied to their bib. Also, races choosing our chip timing method are billed for the maximum number of chips they request. This number establishes the total number of entries they can accept.  Once the race has been held, the event is refunded the amount that was charged for entries that were not achieved, based on several conditions being met. Refunds are NOT given unless the minimum number of entries, 250, has already been met.

Our rate for chip timing for 1.5 hrs at events within a 1.5 hr one-way drive from our office is:

$700 set up fee for first 1.5 hours of chip timing, (includes PCS supplying all chips but not the bibs; $25 reduction to the base fee if using Pretzel City Sports online registration system, discount applies once a minimum of 20 online entries is received. Events are billed for a minimum of 200 chip timed entries, whether they are achieved or not.  Includes 2 free eblasts for an event we chip time, rather than the 1 free one given to manually timed events.


a “Per Entry” fee of $1.75/entry for all races using a “finish line timing” method; printed copy of the results posted at the race site and results posted on www.pretzelcitysports approx  2 hrs after the event.


a “Per Entry” fee of $2.00/entry for all races using a “adjusted finish time” method (finish time minus the time it takes to get to the starting line); printed copy of the results posted at the race site and results posted on www.pretzelcitysports approx  2 hrs after the event.

Other potential fees may apply if we time past the 1.5 hr limit, if the start mats must be relocated to another place for the finish, if raceday entries have to be manually typed in, if a 2nd event is held at the same time, etc. Contact Pretzel City Sports for specifics relating to your situation. 

All fees discussed on this page are provided to give you an approximate idea of what we charge. To find out our exact fee for your situation, contact us by phone or email. Pretzel City Sports has  up to 11 crews available on most days but we are 100% booked on many days each year, so contact us well in advance!