What’s the worst that can happen…?

Sometimes it pays to listen when you are given advice! See what happened when an athlete didn’t get why ‘left is right’ and ‘right is wrong’ when it comes to timing chips…


Pretty much every decent event out there is chip timed these days and, for multisport events that inevitably means you get handed a chunky block of hard rubber and a neoprene and Velcroâ„¢ strap to lash it to your ankle. And, as an experienced athlete, you’ll now immediately do two things:

  • Check that the number on the back of the chip bears some sensible relationship to the race number you’ve been given (we’ve covered this before!) and,
  • Attach the chip to the strap and wrap it round your left ankle.

You’ll normally get reminded by the event crew that it should always go on the left and, just like with those airline safety briefings, all of the previous 30 seconds or so of your life will instantly self-erase.

So, why do you get told to put the chip on the left ankle?

Take a close look at the main picture above and you might get a clue. See that regular pattern of dimples going across this spectacularly trashed timing chip? Those are the teeth of a chainwheel biting into the rubber.

And which side of the bike is the chainwheel on? Yup, the right!

And this, dear reader, is why that annoying person from timing stands around transition/swim check-in and seems to have a strange fascination with your ankles. He/she is not some wierd pervert (I was once accused of being just such a thing by a very angry young lady who didn’t quite get why an old fart was wandering round looking at legs…) but is trying to prevent the sort of catastrophe that inevitably happens when strap + chip + chainwheel = rapid and dramatic end to race.

To save blushes we have carefully hidden the chip number but there is a clue to the event in the picture (you do have to be a serious tri geek to get the reference though!)

timing chips timing chips
Article by
Love exclusive offers, competitions & opinion?
The revamped TRI247 newsletter is the only place to find exclusive offers, awesome competitions and unique opinon from leading triathlon commentators.