Run events - why does distance/timer not start counting up as you cross the start line?

I’ve recently returned to running on Zwift and i see that there remains a long term “bug” (feature) whereby distance and time do not start incrementing until long after the start line has been passed.

Yesterday i ran 5k in the Zwift Run Festival. I started my watch as the countdown timer reached zero, but Zwift did not start recording the event and increasing distance and time until I’d covered around 230m, which at my slow pace is almost two minutes.

It may be no big deal to many, but if I’m trying to run a 5k event I’d like to run 5k, not 5.2k.

It’s not just this event. It’s every running event I’ve taken part in. Is there a reason for this behaviour? If so, i can’t imagine what it is. Can it be fixed? Permanently.

I assume this is the same as cycling events that start in a pen. The event clock doesn’t start until you go under the course banner. Of course, it’s less time at cycling speed.

It’s not so different to queuing up to cross the start line in a real life event. Think how far you need to travel from the rear of the queue in something like the London Marathon.

Perhaps, but the timer starts at some random, arbitrary point on the course with absolutely no visual markers. In an event with, say, 8 participants, there is no delay to cross the start line. It makes no sense to me.

Today i ran another event. This time about 100-110 meters until the timer started ticking upwards.

How is anyone supposed to know where on the course the event actually starts? I remember one event where i almost gave up as (IIRC) we probably ran about 400m before the clock started running. I thought I’d get no credit at all and that the event would never start, with an actual finish seeming even more remote. But it did start, eventually. But what purpose is served? It’s useless and annoying.

Why don’t they simply start the clock at the start line and not in the middle of the course?

Yeah, as I said, I guess it means that everyones clock starts at the same point. 400m seems a bit far though.

This is probably related to the fact that Zwift is and has always been a game based on biking. Running was added on later and is still in beta. Biking an additional 400m to get to the actual start line is really no big deal, especially when considering the draft effect. Running an additional 400m to get to the start line requires significantly more effort relative to cycling and Zwift has not yet taken this into account. Since I don’t care how I place compared to other runners, I simply walk to the actual start line and start my run there. Usually there is some kind of indicator as to where the actual start is, either a line across the road or a post on the side or something else along those lines. Cheers!

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Hi. This is a very old topic I’m afraid and has been discussed numerous times on the Zwift Runners FB page. Zwift race timing is broken and it’s very difficult to fix apparently. Feel free to have a look at this video I made about the subject some 4 years ago. How to Run on Zwift | The Mystery of No Man's Land - YouTube


I assume you do care a little about your recorded time for a particular race though. That’s the main issue here, that the timer actually starts at the start line so when you finish your 5k race in 19 minutes 50 seconds, your race result says 20 minutes 20 seconds. Runners care a lot more about this than cyclists appear to!

Thank you for this. A perfect example. However, in your video there is the convenience of some sort of banner where the timer does start counting up. In lots of events I’ve attended there is no visual reference for the start at all. It could be on a clear bit of “tarmac” anywhere between 70-400m from the pen. You have no clue when the timer will actually start, until it does.

I don’t believe this is so impossible to fix. It’s all within Zwift’s control. If they wanted the timer to start counting up the moment it reaches zero then what’s stopping them? This just seems like feeble excuses for ill considered design. If it’s about merging multiple pens then, OK, have the start line a little way up the track, but make it visually evident where the run/race begins. It can’t be that hard, can it?

As for the “mass start” excuse, in the events I’ve attended it is more typically a dozen runners or less taking part, maybe as few as one or two.

Anyway, I don’t race, as I’m far too slow, but it would be so nice if a 5k event was actually 5k etc. etc. for other “standard” run/race distances.

We’ve started organising some races as Meet Ups now because they don’t suffer with this problem as there’s no lead in. I honestly think if it was an easy fix they would have done it by now. They keep telling me it’s a complex issue because it’s hard baked into the code. I can’t say as I’m not a coder.

This happened to me in Tour de Zwift today. I’m glad to hear there is an explanation for it and it’s not just me having some kind of glitch with my setup! I was really confused for a while until the timer started.

Yes, stage 7 long run has a particular long lead in.

I imagine it caught a few people out. Even i started wondering if there was an issue particularly given the short stage had no ending until they fixed it.