UNION TOWNSHIP -- Timing, as the saying goes, is everything, particularly when it comes to the running.
Wheeler boys cross country coach Louie Guillen, assistant Nick Smith, and volunteer assistant Kirk Cherep collaborated recently on a mutual interest to start Tempo Run Timing & Events.
"Like 10 years ago, I had the idea that I wanted to time some races. I just talked about it off the cuff," Guillen said. "Recently, it kind of picked up, Kirk had started coaching with us and he said it would be something he would be interested in helping out with, and Nick has been with me for a long time. With the way education is nowadays, it's tough. It's something I like to do, to help out the community. I started buying equipment, we came up with a catchy name and a catchy logo that Kirk made. I found a system that doesn't lack in anything other systems have, but it's a lot cheaper."
Cherep, an engineer by profession, moved to Valparaiso four years ago and has only been involved in running for three years. He became interested in helping out with cross country at a high school and reached out to Wheeler last summer.
"I didn't even know Louie's name at the time," Cherep said. "I just told them, I'm a local runner, looking to give back to the community, I'll help with the team however I can. I didn't think much of it at the time. A year or so ago, I was looking into what it takes to put on a race. I would like to put on trail races, maybe a smaller marathon in the fall. I looked up some articles on timing and remembered what Louie said. I asked him, hey, are you still looking to do that? I'm in, let's go. He responded with, yeah, I just bought some equipment. We have a lot in common as far as running, wanting to coach athletes and help them grow. It was just good timing."
Wheeler cross country coaches, from left, Nick Smith, Louie Guillen and Kirk Cherep have joined forces to start Tempo Run, a timing and running events business. (Photo provided)
The site, www.temporuntiming.com, is still under construction, but has an email contact for anyone planning to hold a race.
"We want to give race directors an option," Guillen said. "Whether we're going through a pandemic or not, running's always going to be there. People are always going to be looking for that. There have been races going on, socially distanced 5Ks. People are getting more comfortable."
While all sports have impacted by the pandemic, the effects it has had on running, compared to most sports, isn't as severe.
"It's definitely something that's not as highly affected by COVID as other sports because you can do it on your own or, if you have to be with people, you don't have to be that close," Cherep said. "The situations aren't ideal definitely, but we're going to find a way. We're going to make it happen. Everyone wants a season to happen, so if we have to wear masks part of the time, we'll deal with it."
Both men emphasized that the timing aspect of the business is only part of their plan. They plan to have a You Tube channel and Cherep is working on acquiring a drone license for the benefit of event photography/videography.
"We're going to have some nice things to pull out of our sleeves, to do a little different than normal races," Guillen said. "Not everybody's a cross country kid. There are couch to 5Ks, moms and pops getting ready to run. We want to give them a great experience as well, it's not just the running aspect."
The system will make its official debut Saturday at Wheeler's Bearcat Invitational.
"We've done a couple test runs and it's worked out really well," Guillen said. "We had our Green and Orange 5K team run and the results were online within seconds. We'll see how things go."
For many schools that don't have the means to do electronic timing, the program can be especially beneficial. Host schools are particularly cognizant of keeping traffic moving through the finish area this season due to the coronavirus.
"A lot of schools who don't have a huge budget can really benefit by chip timing," Cherep said. "Wheeler last year, we were doing stop watch timing, with volunteers writing it down. That's how most schools are unless they have a huge invite and can afford to bring in a professional timing service. Once we get it all going, it can be one person on a laptop making sure the chips are reading, and you're getting results posted right after you're done."