GUN TIME VS CHIP TIME
When it comes to awards, a winner of a race is determined by who crosses the finish line first, thus overall and age category results are based on Gun Time.
Gun Time is based on the time from when the gun goes off (READY SET GO!) to the time the participant crosses the finish line. Every participant who starts in the same wave is assigned the same Gun Time.
Chip Time, or Net Time, is a personal time and is based on when the participant crosses the mats at the start to when the participant crosses the finish line. Chip or Net Time is only collected when a race has ordered mats for the start, so chip time is not always available.
USA Track and Field Rule 245.1 states "The order in which the athletes cross the finish line will be the official finish position." Further, Rule 245.3 - regarding transponder timing - "the actual time elapsed between an athlete reaching the starting line and finish line can be made known to the athlete, but will not be considered as official time."
Unofficial chip times for awards destroys head-to-head competition. The winners are based on a separate time trial and it is not always the first runner to the finish. No one really knows who the winners are until the chip times are posted.
Chip or Net Time is a personal time and can be used for an individual's PR or can be used as a qualifying time for races like the Boston Marathon or Bolder Boulder if that race accepts Net Times. But chip or net times are not used for overall or age category results or awards.