And how easy would this be to do?
This would actually be relatively easy to do. You would simply install readers at the starting line and give folks tags to put either on their shoes or their bibs. There are companies that offer off-the-shelf systems, though you could certainly build your own if you had the software-development resources. Here are some firms offering out-of-the-box solutions:
• ChronoTrack Systems offers race-timing systems and has partners in many states from which such solutions can be rented (see RFID News Roundup: RFID Keeps Time With Seattle Marathon Runners and UHF Solution Tracks 42,000 Runners at the New York City Marathon).
• Innovative Timing Systems, a startup company located in St. Louis, Mo., provides an RFID-based race-timing solution that it claims is more dependable that any other currently on the market (see Startup Offers 'Fail-safe' RFID Race-Timing System). The company's Jaguar Race Timing system employs EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID inlays and interrogators manufactured by Alien Technology.
• SAI Timing and Tracking makes a racer's bib with a disposable Gen 2 passive RFID tag to track runners' times during races. According to the company, the system has been employed at marathons in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, with a 99.84 percent read rate (see Gen 2 Tags Track Runner, Motorcycle Speeds).
• Orbiter offers an RFID lap counter, as well as other race-timing products.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal