Certified Race Course Length or Garmin Measurement? Hmmmm...

Contributed by Amanda Loudin of MissZippy1 (www.misszippy1.com). 

Your GPS is not the final word
Yesterday on Twitter I picked up on the fact that fellow FitFluential ambassador Kristy was getting some grief from folks about her time in a recent 5-miler. Kristy PR’d the course by 1:40, yet some people were telling her that it didn’t count because “the course was short.” This, of course, according to their Garmins.
I know I’m going to offend some folks here, but I’ve gotta say it–your Garmin’s measurement of a course doesn’t count. At all. The race directors take a lot of time certifying courses. They do it–as you likely know–on the tightest tangent all the way through the course. Unless you are running that exact tangent, your Garmin is going to deliver a different measurement of the course. Not only that, but your Garmin may not be right.
If I had a dime for every time I’ve run with friends wearing Garmins, only to hear them compare numbers at the end and find that no two were the same, well, I would be retired by now. There are so many reasons for these mileage differences. Some Garmins pick up more satellites than others. Some might not record 100 percent of the run (if you go through a very thickly tree-lined section or are on a hilly trail, for instance). One runner might have run closer to the road tangents than the other. I could go on.
In a race situation, know that the race director has done his or her very best to measure the course accurately. When your Garmin invariably gives you a different number, just let it go. Do NOT find the race director and complain that the course was long (or short). Do NOT go out on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook and diss the race because the distance was off. Just race your race, enjoy the day, and accept a little discrepancy in numbers.
Technology is a great thing, but let’s not use it for the wrong reasons. To me, using it to whine and complain about a few tenths of a mile difference from Garmin to certified course is the wrong reason.

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