Split Second Timing was founded in 1978 as a Timing Company. Rick Stern, President and Founder of SST, created this company because of his position as Cross Country Coach at Coral Gables Senior High School, and as a way of raising funds for his team. The creation of the Coral Gables Cavalier 10K Road Race allowed Rick to purchase his FIRST Timing Clock and the First Chronomix 707 Timer. This was the beginning of what eventually would become a major Race Management Company in the South Florida Area and a LEADER in Timing Technology.
The FIRST event ever to be TIMED by Split Second Timing was the Orange Bowl 10K, which was produced by Runners International, and directed by Basil Honikmann, who now is living in California, with his wife Linda and daughter. This event featured such runners as Alberto Salazar, Marty Liquori, and many other world class athletes. After that, timing became a way of life….Every weekend, going to Events, Timing each and every runner…Handing out SCORING CARDS for RESULTS.. and having runners wait until the Results were done… and then..only the top 3 people were listed for each age group.
In 1980 Split Second Timing, got a call from JC Penney. They wanted SST to direct the JC Penney Easter Seal Race, held in Downtown Miami. This was the VERY FIRST EVENT SST ever Directed! The event was a big success and SST was now a Race Management Company…Having ONE time clock and one 707 timer! We hit the BIG TIME! Throughout the years SST became a big part of the running community, and eventually purchased much more equipment. The philosophy that was adopted by SST was that, “the more you could provide the runner, the more they would participate in your events”. SST became a Leader in providing new and exciting ways of producing Road Races. Rick eventually worked very closely and learned much from his friends at the Miami Runners Club.. Volunteering many hours doing Finish Line, and learning about every aspect of race management. John Marshall, president of the MRRC at that time, taught Rick about scoring and timing. Still, the card system was the way to score a Race!!!
Then came Ian Fowler. Ian was a member of MRRC, and in charge of the finish line. He introduced SST to the ” New ” system of scoring…the PULL TAG!!!! The very first race SST scored using this system was the Key Biscayne Bridge Run… A night race! The system worked perfectly, but still, you only got the Top Three in each age Group!!! Something had to be DONE to get everyone… and much faster!!!
Then came the computer…and Rick’s friends Basil and Linda Honikman. Linda Honikman wrote SST’s very first computer scoring program and SST was now in the Computer Age…. This program allowed SST to score the event at HOME after the race was over with… but did not allow SST to compile the results on race site…However…we now had results for everyone and SST, along with the Ft. Lauderdale Road Runners Club were scoring races using the computer! Even though Race Results were now complete, the runners wanted RESULTS at race site, not after the fact! Along comes Alan Jones. Alan Jones, who lives today in New York, invented the JONES COUNTER. This piece of equipment is vital to everyone who wants an accurate race course. This is what we use to measure and CERTIFY each and every race! Alan, also recognized the need to tabulate the results at race site and wrote the most widely used Scoring Program in the United States today….RUNSCORE!
The date is 1986 and SST is now scoring runs with the computer, but still not using RUNSCORE!! Rick was to scared to allow a MACHINE to score his events.. What if it didn’t work??? What if…..!!!To many things could go wrong!! Then came the Ft. Lauderdale Road Runners …. During one of their events they used RUNSCORE and tabulated the FIRST complete results ever….This was a MILESTONE in South Florida Running!!! People were talking about it…. impressed with the results…. it was GREAT!!! SST had to try out this new system….Then came the big day.. the very first event SST ever tabulated with the computer was the Cavalier Road Race held in 1987. Needless to say, the scoring sheets were ready if the computers didn’t work! But they did, and race scoring for SST changed forever.
As time went on SST purchased brand new TECHNOLOGY, such as the Time Machine for timing runners in Multiple Chutes…SST was able to score events with Thousands of participants. (The largest event SST ever did was the Key Biscayne Bridge Run, which had 2900 participants.) But still… there had to be a better way…a faster way!! In 1986, SST introduced Split Clocks at all SST events… Run clocks and walk clocks for every mile. The need for a volunteer to call out a time was now gone, and replaced with new technology.
As the years went by, new Technology was introduced in Race Management. But who would have thought that INLINE SKATING would change RUNNING FOREVER!!!! In 1990, in Weston, Florida, an inline skating event was going to be held. This event was like all other events with ONE EXCEPTION…all skaters would be wearing a wrist band, and on this band was a CHIP used for timing and scoring the skaters…NO WAY!!! SST went to this event to see this remarkable feat! The finish line was huge, with wooden boards across it..computers all over the place and electronic equipment that was very interesting to look at!! As the first skater came across the finish line he was scored, however, as more and more skaters finished, their times were missed… A total of about 45% of the participants did not get a time!!! That was not good enough!!!! But this was to change the Timing and Scoring in South Florida forever. Once SST realized that this technology existed, it was only a matter of time before it would be brought to South Florida.
The 100th Boston Marathon was more than a Mile Stone.. it was going to be the Very First Event to be Timed and Scored with the ChampionChip Timing System. This was a new “Chip” scoring system, brought over to the USA by a company, housed in the Netherlands. The Boston Marathon was the “TEST” case! When the race was over with, the CHIP worked perfectly!!! However, there was a problem with the results, but not due to the chip.. the problem was the scoring program , which used the chip data! Many people questioned the chip at that time, and questioned how well it worked. Negative things were said, what could be done to make people realize that this technology was the thing of the future?
Burns Computer Services was the distributor of the ChampionChip Timing System in North America. They helped time the Boston Marathon, with the aid of their European counterparts. SST called Mike Burns inquiring about this System and NEVER got a call back. Finally…after MONTHS of calling, Rick received a call from Mike Burns. A meeting was set up in Helen, Georgia, where Burns Computer Services was timing a Dirt Bike Event using the chip. Helen, a small Tourist town in Northeast Georgia, was filled with bikers and tourists when SST arrived. One look at the ChampionChip System and that was it! The entire bike event was timed using the Championchip and NOT ONE BIKER MISSED THEIR TIME! This was the system to purchase…advanced technology with total accuracy.
The Championchip was delivered after the Olympic Games in Atlanta, because SST’s system was used to help time the Marathon. Split Second Timing became the VERY FIRST TIMING COMPANY IN NORTH AMERICA to purchase the ChampionChip Timing System, behind the distributor, Burns Computer Services!! SST was now on the FIRING LINE!!!! Every major TIMING COMPANY in the United States was looking SOUTH to Florida because they heard about a company that purchased this system! Most people thought SST was nuts, spending the money on a system that they thought would not work!! Alan Jones, the author of Runscore, adjusted his program to fit the ChampionChip Timing System. David Simms, from Burns Computer Services, helped Rick learn the system. Wayne Windsor, SST’s finish line manager also learned the system backwards and forward! That summer lots of learning was going on!!!
The news in South Florida was out….The Chip had arrived! Many articles were written about the chip and what it could do… but still it had not been tested…Finally the date had been set…..The very first EVENT ever to use the chip was going to be THE KEY BISCAYNE LIGHTHOUSE RUN! The first test of the chip was the Alan Miller benefit run in Cooper City. Twenty chips were given out and used…Twenty times were recorded PERFECTLY! It worked!!! But that was not a race situation…November was coming!! The day had arrived….The Key Biscayne Lighthouse Run was here. The anticipation was high… Did we do everything we needed to do? Were we prepared? Will the System work? David Simms assured us all would be okay, however, the chutes were set up anyway, and the timers had their Time Machines going! As the first runner approached the finished line, everyone held their breath, waiting to hear the “Beep” sound as the chip came across the red mat! Finally as the runner crossed the line, we all heard that wonderful beep and knew it was working. Within a minute 30 more people came across the finish line, and the Chutes were taken down for the very first time in any running event held in the State of Florida, and have NEVER BEEN UP AGAIN!!
Split Second Timing, on that day, introduced to the running community 21st Century Technology! The first set of results were posted within 3 minutes after the FIRST RUNNER crossed the finish line. Many runners didn’t realize what they were looking at. They had to be told that these were the RESULTS! Most said ….NO WAY!!!!! SST is the only company in South Florida to have used the ChampionChip Timing System. Since that Saturday on Key Biscayne, most runners when they approach the registration tent always want to know…”Is this a CHIP EVENT?”. Runners and Walkers alike have gotten used to the speed and accuracy of the Chip.In the future, there are many things that will advance the speed of scoring and enhance the running experience. You can be sure that SPLIT SECOND TIMING will be there to bring it to South Florida!