There is likely just one person that has gone to more track meets in the state of Florida this season than yourself truly as I counted up 16 track meets for myself just in the first 23 days of April.
That person would be Chris Sumner, owner of Miles & Minutes timing company, which is based in Sumner's hometown of Tallahassee but don't expect to see him there that often timing meets locally.
A former high school runner and coach himself, Sumner got into timing back in 2004 as a young coach to help get his kids' times recorded that he was coaching at the time for his alma mater of Godby High School in areas of the state where fully automatic timing was not as common and more hand-timed less organized meets were the norm.
It was a hard sell to some coaches and meet directors use to doing things the old school way, but they eventually bought onto Sumner's selling approaching that they could run off bigger more efficient invitational style meets while having to abdicate their responsibilities to compile the results as he would time the meets.
As Sumner's experience and knowledge grew as a timer while learning from and working with other more experienced timers in the state, so did the interest from some of his coaching buddies that knew Chris and asked him to time their meets as well. When two of the same coaching buddies were asking him to time on the same weekends, he knew that he could not be in the tough position anymore to have to say no to one friend and pick the other's meets. By 2012, Sumner was ready to officially launch his own timing company appropriately named Miles & Minutes.
So he started to hire others and build satellite crews including ones to cover his home base of Tallahassee, the Panhandle and eventually into the Orlando metro area (specifically Osceola County) in one of his coaching friends and former MileSplit contributor Donald Lamb.
Sumner then would go wherever else in the state that his services were needed. Most weeks can find Sumner driving down interstate highways in a minivan with a small U-Haul trailer hitched with his scoreboard and equipment heading every which way and direction in Florida hitting up numerous meets on a consecutive day span. Not uncommon for him to time 4-5 track meets in a given week once the season has started.
Sometimes, he crashes with friends he knows in St. Petersburg, when down in that area. Often, he makes the long drive back home late to be back home with his wife and two young children in Tallahassee to see them in the morning before having to hit the road again.
The pandemic hit many industries hard and arguably none worse in our sport than the timing community. Many timers such as Sumner have invested so much into their seasonal business that it has become their main source of income, but comes with a lot of financial risk with the expensive equipment required that cannot pay it off if it sits idle with no events going on including us. It just so happened that right before the pandemic hit that Sumner had used bought additional new and expensive timing equipment to help scale his growing timing business.
With the idleness and no hope in sight last spring on when meets would resume in Florida and the financial responsibilities and stress to provide for his family, Chris Sumner humbly applied and worked a job in bakery department at a Publix grocery store last spring and summer to try and bridge the income gap to the eventual restart of the sport and track meets in the state.
It was definitely a low point for Sumner and certainly a wake-up call to how vulnerable that the profession and industry are for a timer like Chris due to circumstances out of their control.
Thankfully, Florida was one of the states that led the way in getting high school sports back thanks to efforts of the FHSAA, local and state government officials to pave the way for everyone to get back in the game including timers.
The 2021 outdoor season has been arguably the busiest season ever for Sumner and the Miles & Minutes crew timing more meets than ever before. A long-time supporter and partner of MileSplit including at one point working as a member of our customer support for online registration, Sumner is a big fan of our new live results platform on MileSplit.live, which he and his crews use now for all their meets that has a live scoreboard feature and very mobile-friendly display for those in attendance at the meets.
Sumner might be well known as a timer throughout the state, but he might be more famous for his daily facebook video posting streak of doing a set of pushups (now at 32/day), which now has been going strong for 4 plus years and nearly 1,500 days.
Often coaches, meet directors, officials, and kids will join him in the pushup streak video at the end of the meets. If he is traveling, dog tired, and still has not got them in, he might pull over on the side of the highway to do them. He's got several causes and reasons why he still does the pushups, but now has the great expectation certainly of the streak going strong.
Hopefully, the 2021 outdoor season will be the start of a long streak of many future seasons to never be canceled for the sake of the athletes, coaches, and especially the very important and critical timers throughout the state of Florida like Sumner.
Interested in Miles & Minutes timing your event? Can contact Chris Sumner at email@example.com.