What is chip time?

Chip time (sometimes it is called net time ) is the actual amount of time it takes a runner to go from the starting line of a race to the finish line.

As you move across a special timing mat at the starting line, a chip registers that you've started the race. Then, as you cross the finishing line, the chip registers that you've finished the race. So, in other words, the amount of time that it takes you to reach the starting line (since most people are not right at the front of the race) doesn't count in your overall time.

In some cases of very large races, it can take runners at least 20 minutes to reach the starting line. Your chip time is different than your "gun time" / "clock time", which is the amount of time it took you to finish the race from the moment the gun (or horn) went off.

Please keep in mind when you cross the finish line, the time that is displaying on the finish line clock is the "gun time" / "clock time".  It does not take into account the time it took to cross the starting line.

Also, usually award, overall, age group place are determine by your "gun time" / "clock time".

For more information on chip timing official rules - go to the USA Track and Field web site
download the Complete 2012 USATF Competition Rules Book - PDF; 20.6 MB
and look at

Rule 245.1: "The order in which the athletes cross the finish line will be the official finish position."
Rule 245.3: "The actual time elapsed between an athlete reaching the starting line and finish line (in other words, chip time) can be made known to the athlete, but will not be considered as official time."




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Last Updated: December 31, 2009