Lap Counting


Experience From - Mike , Laurie Staton , Gordon Chace , Paul Comet , Todd Hugie , Jed Davis , Travis Bernritter , Dex Tooke , Vicky Hoover ,


Jonathan Engelstad wrote:

"I am doing one of the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life with a few friends of mine starting later today at about 6 pm. We are responsible for counting our own laps, and I was wondering if any of you guys/gals have any clever way of counting laps other than the obvious way."
Here are two easy and cheap ways:

Go to a sports store and get one of the little counters that golfers use to keep their scores. or, Go to an 'Outdoors' or survival-type shop and get one of the little cord and bead pace counting gizmos that Army and Marine types use for keeping track of distances travelled.

Laurie Staton

A coupla years ago (in 1983...) for my thirtieth birthday, I did a 24-hour run with a friend (Jay Aldous) on the East High track here in Salt Lake City.

Of course to be recognized, at that time, individual lap times had to be recorded (I would imagine that would still be the case). We hooked up a Chronomix (with a tape recording printed times) to the fence near lane one, and punched the button every time we went around. In the alternative, I've also used the old hand-held movie-clicker-counter device that may be punched up to 999 times. At the time, I was following National Running Data Center (Ken Young) guidelines. Kinda dates me just a teensy bit, doesn't it?

Gordon Chace

"I am doing one of the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life with a few friends of mine starting later today at about 6 pm. We are responsible for counting our own laps, and I was wondering if any of you guys/gals have any clever way of counting laps other than the obvious"
I've run a few ACS relays as the only soloist in the event, and there have been no scorekeepers provided since the events were not races.

I wore a small belt-pouch and used duct tape to attach a small thumb click mechanical counter, the sort of thing used by merchants when they check their inventory. I found a very sturdy (but expensive) chrome-plated clicker at an office-supply shop.

To provide partial review versus missing or doubled-up clicks, I also would look for lap counts multiples of 4, and click upon a standard 100-interval Timex watch. Afterwards, I could review my pace for each near-mile (4*400 meters being 99.4% of a mile) and do some sanity checking. If at some point, for instance, I was consistently doing 12 minute miles and one of the splits was only 9 minutes then I had over-credited myself by clicking too much. Or a 15 minute mile would mean either I ran a lap without credit or maybe I was off-track for necessities.

I couldn't do this review until the whole thing was over (too complex to explain theory to pitcrew who were also sleep-deprived) so I did a few spare laps beyond my tentative completion of goal distance, just in case the review showed an error. There really was a mile that seemed too fast so I had to "eat" one of my bonus laps.

An alternate technique that would have allowed a more rigorous review, but would have weighted me down more, would have been to carry along a small dictation tape recorder and turn it on for a few seconds each lap and call out my watch reading.

One other tidbit - as the only soloist I asked the organizers to give me priority in one respect, which was that all reverse-direction announcements should be given when I was either at start/finish of a lap or exactly half a lap out of phase. Then I could always use a constant landmark along the track as the place to do my thumb clicking.

Paul Comet

Buy a Bic ballpoint pen. Every lap, put a stroke on your forearm. You can keep the pen on you or tied to a fence on a string.

Or, bring a bunch of chickens. Every lap, choke a chicken. At the end, count the dead chickens. I think the first idea is better.

Todd Hugie

Talk with the Boy Scouts in you area and find out who needs an Eagle Scout project. We had a Boy Scout last year at our American Cancer Relay and he did a excellant job counting the laps for the ultra runners. He was there through the rain and wind and endured as well as the ultra runners. As part of the project he had to organize volunteers to help him count and he had to make sure they came as scheduled.

Jed Davis

If you cut a piece of PVC pipe (1/2 inch will probably do) into a section like a ring, then shift it from finger to finger as you count laps, you can be fairly assured that the milage will be close to correct for the mile intervals. This beats trying to hold a finger to the palm for every lap or trying to count "one, one ,one," all the way aroumd the track. There is still a need to record about each mile or so. That shoould be done anyway to assure that you did not forget a finger at some point during the mile.

Travis Bernritter

Another way (an Army thing) take a piece of cord and five beads - four of one color, and one of another color.

Tie a knot at one end, slide the beads on with the single color bead at the end.

Tie a knot in the middle small enough the beads will slide over if pushed.

Tie a knot in the other end.

Every lap slide a one of the four colored beads over the knot, at the end of the fourth slide the single color bead and repeat.

Make a longer string with more beads for more miles or write down the mile.

Just make sure you don't flip the string half way through so you can't remember whether there are three left or three done.

Dex Tooke

I'm usually the only solo runner in our local acs 24 hour relay. I count laps by using an elastic belt system. I have 24 for each hour. each belt has 24 tags (since, I don't plan on running more than 6 miles in any one hour) on it with the number of that particular hour printed on the tag. each lap I tear a tag off and throw it away. at the end of each hour I put on the next belt and start over. all I have to do is count the number of remaining tags on the discarded belts and not only do i have my total laps/miles......but also I know each hour splits. it has worked well for me in 4 events.

Vicky Hoover

Few years ago before I bought a hand-held lap counter, I used the dot-dash tally method. I put a wrist band on my left wrist (I'm right handed). After each lap I added a dot (four make a square). Next four laps a dash after each lap (really looks like a square now). Next two laps one dash from corner to corner (each ten miles then is a square with an x in it). Quick count each x = 10 plus dot's & dash one each. After practice you know from the pattern and don't even have to count the dots and dashes anymore. Write it down a few times. I think it's fun.

I didn't have to stop, just hooked a black fine-line marker to my waist and a quick draw to draw. Done.