Navigating Race Timing in the Frozen North

An Inside Look at Skinny Raven's Unique Challenges and Tools

In the world of race timing, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes, especially for those operating in unique and challenging environments. In a recent webinar, Mark Iverson from Skinny Raven, an event timing and production company based in Anchorage, Alaska, shed light on the intricacies of managing events in this frozen corner of the world. From extreme weather conditions to moose encounters, Skinny Raven has faced it all. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the webinar to explore their experiences and the tools used to navigate these challenges.

Embracing the Alaskan Race Scene

Mark Iverson shares his journey into the world of event timing. Mark, a cross-country ski racer and former college athlete, found himself saying “yes” to the opportunity of organizing and timing races in Anchorage, Alaska. He became involved with Skinny Raven, a specialty running retail company, where he started timing races like the Twilight 12K. With just a month to prepare for the event, Mark took on the challenge of race day operations. Little did he know that this would be the start of his journey as a race timer.

From One Race to Many

As Mark’s involvement with the racing scene in Anchorage grew, so did the number of events he was timing. He decided to start using technology to time races and partnered with ChronoTrack Live. This move allowed Skinny Raven to become a full-service event timing and production company. They adopted technology for race timing and registration using RunSignUp, enabling them to handle everything from registration to marketing and race-day operations.

Challenges in the Frozen North

Anchorage, Alaska presents unique challenges for race timing. Since the extreme cold can affect the performance of electronic devices, their preparations include keeping generators warm until the morning of the event. They also need to factor in the short days and the early start times for races, making the setup and management more challenging. Additionally, wildlife encounters, such as moose and bears, can sometimes disrupt races, leading to reroutes or stoppages. Mark emphasizes that in Anchorage it’s not only about managing timing technology but also adapting to the unpredictability of the natural environment.

Choosing the Right Tools

While Skinny Raven faces these unique challenges, they’ve also embraced various tools to streamline their event timing and management processes. Here’s a quick look at some of the tools they use:

  • Trello: For day-to-day timing management, Skinny Raven uses Trello.
  • Dropbox: All their business-related data, including race folders and resources, is synced in Dropbox, making it easily accessible to the team.
  • QuickBooks Online: For accounting and invoicing, they rely on QuickBooks Online, which helps manage their financials.
  • RaceJoy: Skinny Raven uses RaceJoy for their events, incorporating banner ads, custom alerts, and virtual event options to enhance the participant experience.
  • RunSignUp: They rely heavily on RunSignUp for race registration, dynamic bib assignment, and integrating their events into their website using RunSignup’s web builder.
  • RaceDay CheckIn App: Skinny Raven uses the CheckIn app to help provide an efficient and streamlined experience at check-in.

Mark also mentions that they are gradually transitioning to RaceDay Scoring for cross-country events.

A Journey of Adaptation

Navigating the race timing industry in Anchorage, Alaska, is indeed a unique journey. Skinny Raven’s story is a testament to their adaptability and willingness to embrace new technologies and tools. Despite the freezing temperatures and wildlife challenges, they have found ways to thrive in the timing business.

  1. Diverse Event Portfolio:
    Beyond traditional running races, Mark’s company, Skinny Raven Sports, is involved in timing a wide range of events, including skiing events, trail runs, mountain climbs, and even niche activities like a midnight marathon. This diversity showcases the adaptability and versatility of event timer\\\.
  2. Event Management Beyond Timing:
    Event timers often go above and beyond to ensure events run smoothly. Mark’s involvement in providing equipment, such as tents, trash cans, and crowd control barricades, showcases how they offer a more comprehensive event management service beyond just timing.
  3. Adapting to Local Challenges:
    As we mentioned, operating in Alaska, Mark faces unique challenges. Particularly in dealing with the region’s cold weather and remote locations. Despite the adversity, his commitment to excellence has allowed him to offer event timing services even under such extreme conditions.
  4. Leveraging Technology:
    Mark highlighted the importance of technology in modern event timing. His company makes full use of RunSignUp technology for all aspects of the events they produce and those they manage – from registration to results. They also have made use of TicketSignup for an adjacent event of theirs.
  5. Exploring New Avenues:
    Mark’s experience indicates that the event timing industry is evolving. With the limited population in Alaska, he acknowledges the need to explore new avenues, such as managing other types of events like conferences and concerts. This diversification is essential for continued growth.
  6. Collaboration Over Competition:
    In a relatively small market, Mark emphasized the importance of collaboration between event timers. He shared how he and his local competitors have maintained a positive working relationship, often supporting each other when capacity becomes an issue.
  7. Constant Development:
    Mark commended RunSignUp for its continuous development and responsiveness to customer feedback.


The event timing industry is multifaceted, and professionals like Mark from Skinny Raven Sports showcase the dedication and innovation required to excel in this industry. Skinny Raven’s journey in the frozen north of Alaska stands as a testament to the spirit of adaptation and innovation that defines this unique corner of the racing world.

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