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New chip enhances 10K technology

by Danny Carpenter

ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR

The fourth annual Greater Clarksburg 10K welcomed in the new century in more ways than one.

Runners wore a computer chip, the ChampionChip, on their shoes to help timers get accurate and quick results.

The concept has been used in marathons to help runners with their split times on miles, but this technology was new to the 10K.

"It takes us up to the next level of races," race chairman Larry Mazza said. "I usually only see them in marathons, like the New York City or Chicago. Now we have it right here in Clarksburg.

"People love the technology, and it gives the runners their 5K (time) splits."

The West Virginia Italian Heritage 5K, which was also timed by the ChampionChip, was the test race for the Clarksburg 10K, according to Mazza.

"They're halfway to the 10K, and we are in partnership with them," Mazza said. "They experimented with it, and it passed the test."

Mark Courtney, who owns Runner's High Road Race Timing and Computer Services, said it made his job a lot easier.

The last three years, Courtney and his staff had to manually input the results.

"The complications of the divisions of prize money ... makes a lot of manual work to do," Courtney said. "The time that normally I was spending last year to scan times delayed the time to start (the prize money divisions)."

Courtney purchased the technology in early May and used it for the half-marathon splits during the Olympic marathon trial in the Pittsburgh Marathon.

The Clarksburg 10K "was an ideal race to use the chip," Courtney said. "It has two loops of the same course, and it allows runners to see how much they slow down or speed up in the first and second half of the races."

Race director Carl Hatfield, a former All-American in cross country and track and field at West Virginia University, believes average runners have an idea how the elite runners run their races.

"You can look at the top elite runners and see how close their splits came together," Hatfield said.

Courtney said it also helps the average runners with their friends and competitors.

"They can look at it and say, 'Look how far ahead of me they were in the first lap and look how much I gained in the second,'" Courtney said. "It's just neat stuff (for runners) to look at."

Assistant sports editor Danny Carpenter can be reached at 626-1444.

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