610-779-2668 •  rhornpcs@aol.com

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RACE DIRECTORS! Reserve your crew for your 2018 event NOW!

Pretzel City Sports is now taking timing reservations for 2018 events. This fall, we had 3 dates that were 100% booked and for which we had to turn work away. We expect that the same thing could happen in the Spring of 2108, despite us having more crews than almost any timer in the East.… Continue Reading



Basic Timing, Promotion & Design Help Package

Of the almost 500 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 www.pretzelcitysports.com 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 almost 500 events a year that PCS times.
  • Add your basic race information to PCS’s online calendar; over ½ 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 100-125 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:


resultsboardpicwithronThis is the most often used method to time small to midsized races and is the lowest priced option we offer. Who should use this system? It is generally best for 5k to 10k races that expect to have 500-600 finishers or less (even more finishers can be timed this way if the distance is longer).  With manual timing, the runner’s time (and bib number, if visible) is manually “entered” on our Time Machine, 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 also put 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 see where they finished in their age group. Awards are manually determined from the sex & gender on the tear off tags and they’re normally available for announcing 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 for “manual timing of a single chute” depends mainly on 2 factors: the length of the race & our one way travel time from our nearest office to the race site, as calculated by mapquest.com. Our base fee of $550 is for a 5k or less occurring within a 20 minute one way travel time from our office. The fee then goes up $50 for every additional 20 minute block of one way travel time until it hits 1 hr. Then, we add $25 for each additional 20 minute block of one way travel time block over that. For example, 5k’s in an area in the 21 minute to 40 minute one way drive time (i.e., Limerick, Ephrata, etc. served from our Reading office) cost $600 and races in the 41 to 60 minute one way drive time (i.e. Lancaster, Allentown, Lansdale) cost $650.  Over one hour travel time, we add $25 per 20 minute block; i.e. making our price for Harrisburg & Doylestown $675 and our price for Flemington, NJ $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 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 normal base fee applies to the first 350 finishers that are individually timed and then, you pay 75 cents per additional finisher over that. Our base fee ALSO covers both a main event where people are individually timed/awards given/results posted on the Internet and another non-competitive “fun run” event of a lesser distance held anytime within 1/2 hour before 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. If we DO, that constitutes a 2nd event and results in a nominal addition to your overall timing 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. Then, we add $325 to that figure for each additional chute required.


For larger races or races with multiple waves or with transition points such as Duathlons or Triathlons, chip timing is almost a must!  With chip timing, you place an adhesive “chip” that we supply to the back of each bib given to runners. That chip emits a very distinctive radio signal specific to that bib number, so the number of that chip must match their bib. Also, a list of runners and their assigned bibs must be supplied to PCS a few days before the race. When the runner starts 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 “net” or “actual” time. 

There are a lot of benefits to timing your event with disposable chips. There is no need to collect the race tags worn by each runner, the order of finish cannot be altered by people getting out of order in the chute, results are normally calculated a bit faster, the results are posted online within 1-2 hours, runners can input their bib into laptops we provide at the site to see more detailed info on their race such as pace per mile, their age group ranking, etc. In addition, the number of volunteers you need to supply PCS reduces to 1 or 2 at most. Another huge plus from chip timing is that it adjusts for how long it takes runners NOT on the starting line to get to the actual start line. This differential can be significant in bigger events or events with narrow starting areas. 

These benefits come at a price, however. The equipment used to for chip timing costs about 4 times what PCS’s manual equipment costs and that extra cost equates to a timing fee that is about 50-70% higher than what PCS charges for single chute manual timing. PCS also bills for a minimum entry level of 250  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. A handful of runners claim that they will do a race only if it is chip timed. But those numbers are very small and few runners are willing to pay a higher race fee just because it has chip timing. So, 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 the results derived from this method 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.  Our system has multiple safeguards and redundancy built into it and we add the backup recording as a precaution as well. For that reason, we are not priced as low as some races that use no backup or less reliable systems (we use the same system that is used by the Boston Marathon). But because of the unpredictable nature of electronic devices, we feel that we owe it to your race to take extra precautions.  Plus, our unique promotional tools often can offset this slight price difference many times over.  

Other than multiple wave races and events with transition areas, what size races really need to utilize chip timing? Here are some general guidelines of races that logistically need the technology and have a big enough entry base to cover the additional cost:

5K:  750 finishers or more in under 40 minutes                                      5M:   800 finishers or more in under 55 minutes

10K:    950 finishers or more in under 65 minutes                                10M: 1100 finishers or more in under 1 hr, 40 minutes

13.1M: 1600 finishers or more under 2 hrs, 20 minutes                     26.2M: 3500 finishers or more in under 4 hours, 20 minutes

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. 

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 never were realized, over their 250 entry minimum. This refund is mailed 7-14 days after the race and will vary per entry, based on what the fee was for that level of entry and whether the chips not used were returned in a sequential order and useable condition.   

Our rate for chip timing is: 

  • $750 base fee
  • $1.35 per entry for races where the last entry is expected to finish in no more than 1 hr (i.e 5k’s, 4 milers, )
  • $1.45 per entry for races where the last entry is expected to finish between 1 hr. and 2 hrs (i.e. 5 milers, 10k’s)
  • $1.55 per entry for races where the last entry is expected to finish between 2 hr. and 3 hrs (i.e. 15k’s.10 milers)
  • $80/hour for each hour of timing over 3 hours, based on when event instructs PCS to stop timing. Same applies for any timing past the rate period for which the race is billed.. All time periods start at the published start time of the event. Billed in 15 minute increments. 
  • Includes 2 free eblasts rather than the 1 given for manual timing
  • Rates for races that expect more than 800 entries are open to negotiation. 

Other fees that may be assessed include:

  • Varying fee for chips ordered but not issued to an entrant and not returned to PCS after the event.
  • $100 or more for a start line and finish line that are more than 100 yards apart.
  • 10 cents per database entry that we are required to type in the day of the event.
  • An additional fee to be determined for a race that requires cross comparison and merging of times from different waves.    

The 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.