May 17 2013

The course – getting from A to B

Action Challenge published the course yesterday for the London2Brighton 100km run. It’s a bit disjointed, but here’s the link to the course they sent out, exported as a GPX file and re-imported into Endomondo:

Now that I had a GPX route, I can load it up into a whole variety of  applications on my phone. The ones I’ve looked at so far are:

The easiest one to start with is Garmin Connect. I use a GPS watch to monitor speed, distance, time and heart rate. All this is stored on the watch and then downloaded to the Garmin Connect website when I get home, so it’s pretty painless and is very lightweight to carry. But its mapping functions are not sophisticated enough to allow me to follow a route and give me confidence the each one of the 100,000+ strides I’ll be doing will be taking me in the right direction! I don’t want to be putting down another 1000 strides when it doesn’t take me  closer to the finish.

I’ve been using Endomondo for some time on my long runs, only really because I knew it had a “Follow Route” capability and gives you a breakdown every mile. However, with the “follow route” function, you have to hold the phone in your hand in order to make sure you stay on the right path. Maybe I’ll end up doing that anyway for a lot of the route, but it’s not ideal.

MapMyTracks is who ActionChallenge recommend. I don’t actually like the look of it because again the App is underpowered and requires mobile data connection to populate the map as you’re running. It’s a but like MapMyRun which I’ve never really got on well with.

Google Maps is another bandwidth hog. It works, but the specific App on the android phone can’t accept a GPX file, so you have to use google map in a browser which is distinctly not ideal. I guess I haven’t spend much time looking at it, but it doesn’t look fit for this purpose – unless you know better?

And the winner is…

Saving the best till last? I think so. OsmAnd blew me away when I looked at it. And it’s free. You can download it from App Store or Google Play. The app starts empty until you download all the stuff you want from it. A small selection of things I’ve looked for are:

  • Maps for the any area you need – including one for all of England (free)
  • Ordnance survey style maps including footpaths, bridleways and much more.
  • Offline mode… so you don’t need a connection
  • Accepts GPX files for routes
  • Download recorded voice navigation (free)
  • Navigates for cars, bikes, ramblers or… mad runners!

I’ve used it on a few local runs and it’s really very good at navigating. The maps are superbly detailed down to a good zoom. They are vector based so can scale in and out as required. The algorithm for fine detailing or broad view is very well balanced.

All in all, this is a winner and is hardly ever noted by people in forums! It really is worth a look if you need to navigate anywhere and you can’t get a reliable or fast mobile data connection.

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