We recently spoke with Tim Fulton of Fulton Accurate Timing as a kickoff to our on-going Timer Spotlight series. Our goal for this series is to highlight some of our top service providers and find out who they are, what they do, and how they use FinishLynx technology.
Company: Fulton Accurate Timing
Name: Tim Fulton, Owner
Location: New York, USA
# of events timed: 125+/year
Types of events timed: Track & Field, Cross Country, Road Races
Can you briefly tell us about Fulton Accurate Timing?
I saw a need for track and field and XC timing in the Hudson Valley area of NY as most timers were traveling from far away to time the meets. We focus on HS and college track and field and now have about 75 events after being in business for just 2 years.
What’s one thing about your company that makes it unique?
I think my experience in so many areas of the sport really helps. I’ve run track for years, have run marathons and some ultras, coached HS for 15 years, coached college for 2 years, been a meet director of youth events and huge HS events, and worked with pros on NYRR The Millrose Games. I’ve been an official, track writer, and track photographer. I think understanding how all of these roles fit together helps me understand how to meet the needs of my clients.
You also run the Armory Track & Field timing room. What are some of the challenges that accompany timing such a large venue?
There are so many pieces to the puzzle at The Armory. From numerous scoreboards to announcer screens, from overlapping heats of 200s to splits in the 5000m with 30 people, from kids who have never run before to professionals with egos – there is so much to do. We finish one event and go right into the next. Making sure the staff knows what’s going on, that they are rested and fresh to perform at a high level, that all of the different staff teams are communicating properly are the biggest challenges.
Are there certain stresses or added pressures to capturing prestigious events?
Well, being live on TV or even a high profile webcast definitely adds to the pressure but we are so used to the building being full and sending results to a huge jumbotron that it’s not that different for us. The pressure comes from wanting to do the best job we can and having a different team of people in the building than we are used to.
Your first experience with timing was at the age of 10 with a stopwatch. How have you seen the industry evolve since then?
I think the biggest change in the last 20 years is how many events now have complete results. When I started working at The Armory, they used to only have the results for the top 6 places. I pushed hard to come up with ways to have complete results but still keep the meets moving as fast as possible.
What advice do you wish you had received when you first started out in timing?
I have gotten some great advice from some of the industry’s best from the very beginning – so I’ve been lucky. But I would say that getting to the event very early is the key. Being totally set up before coaches and officials start asking questions is a huge help.
When did you first start using FinishLynx?
I’ve only been using FinishLynx for 3 years, but I have timed almost 300 meets in that time.
What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of what you do?
When I see an athlete look up at the scoreboard seconds after crossing the line and see their PR and get excited, it’s still pretty great. But I love when we add a new piece of technology and it helps the experience. When we started doing splits for all races and relays, it was a huge hit. Now, we’re adding more field events scoreboards this year and I expect a positive reaction.
The least favorite is long track meets and being away from my family.
What products/accessories are part of your usual timing set up?
Well at The Armory we have 7 timing cameras, 4 IdentiLynx Cameras, about 25 computers and tablets, 2 Ipico Lite Readers with mats embedded in the track. We always run RadioLynx and hard line starts and we’re adding a FinishLynx starting gun system this season. We’ve got some split clocks, FieldLynx tablets, and can now print our own hip numbers. We even have our own track and field facility meet management software we call TrackOS – I’m sure I’m leaving something out.
What are your usual EtherLynx camera capture settings?
It all depends on how much light we have. I like to shoot at 2000FPS as much as possible. I like my gain to be around 50. Indoors, those settings are rarely attainable for me. What is nice about The Armory is once we set up for the season, all we have to do when we come in is boot the cameras and time a track meet.
What features would you like to see added to the system?
I’d like to see the Scoreboard Options layout changed. Sometimes I run 10-15 scripts and only being able to see three at a time is challenging. Overall I think the software could use a more modern look and feel.
What has been your favorite race so far and why?
My favorite race that I’ve ever run is the Vermont 50K. I ran great and love the ultra community.
I love high school track more than any other level so my favorite meet to time is probably the New Balance Indoor Nationals.
If you could time any type of race in the world, which would it be and why?
I’d love to get to work on the NYRR NYC Marathon. My father has been a hand timer for that race since 1976. Getting to work with Tom Kelley’s team would be very exciting and mean a lot to me. Either that or timing Olympic Trials would mean a lot.
What three words would you use to describe FinishLynx?
Best Timing Cameras
“This is not just a career for me – it’s my passion.”
Note: We’d like to give a HUGE thanks to Tim Fulton for participating in our Q&A.
We’re currently looking to feature timers from a variety of sports/regions/sizes. If you’re interested in answering some questions for our Timer Spotlight series, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Fulton Accurate Timing: Click Here
To learn more about photo finish timing systems: Click Here