Viva Las Vegas
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Viva Las Vegas

I’ve been to lots of conferences. All of them in Australia – the ones at the Gold Coast were particularly great. But I’ve never been to the Mecca of junketeering – Las Vegas, Nevada.

In my previous career/life I was involved in gaming management – that is, separating people from their money in sundry devious ways. So gambling in Vegas held no real thrill for me. I wanted to see the sights – pyramids, Eiffel Towers, Venetian canals, and volcanoes exploding on cue, hourly.

So it was with no hesitation that I signed up for the 2016 Active|Ipico Users’ Summit in January. We would be staying right on the Strip – directly underneath the famous High Roller, which is to Vegas as the London Eye is to that city. I would get to meet race timers from all over the US, and some internationals, and get to share in their knowledge and experience. There was also a social function on the Wednesday night, which left a whole day and one night to see the sights of Las Vegas and maybe catch a show.

The Summit itself was a bit of an eye-opener with respect to what my American colleagues actually do. Cross Country. A lot of it. Most of the US race timers’ portfolios seemed to consist solely of school and college cross country, which is huge over there. It has a definite season, and most timers supplement that work with varsity track and field timing. I met very few who timed such a diverse range of races as Tempus – not surprising for some of the landlocked States to not have triathlon and aquathlon, but even the bigger companies – some of which had been round for years – focused on CC and school athletics. Some road races, but not a lot.

Particularly valuable was the insights given into how to get the most out of my Ipico equipment, and how to maintain it in the field. With the Oz Dollar being what it is, I can’t afford to replace this stuff often. What I didn’t expect was the product releases and announcements from the newly-minted Active|Ipico.

Ipico in its old guise had stagnated somewhat as far as its R&D was concerned. Active (a very dynamic company) moved the whole operation across country from Chicago to Dallas, Texas, and immediately started work on improving the numbers. The result is a foray into disposable chip technology, UHF systems, and race timing and scoring software. A lot to take in, and a bit sad I am so far away from all this activity, but it was good to be in the loop.

As for Vegas itself – I decided it’s not my scene. Too pushy, loud and in-your-face. Not to mention smelly, and full of the cliched characters who are just there to hustle you. I’m glad I saw the Venetian canals, the Roman Forum, the Trevi fountain and all the rest – and especially the huge M&Ms store – but there was no time for a show and the volcano timetable clashed with the Bellagio Fountain. I think I made the right choice.

Also, a tip for Aussie travellers in the States – if you can find Brooklyn Lager beer to drink, accept no substitutes. And always order half-portions of food.

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