Garmin Adds New Adventure Race Activity Profile: An Explanation
While going through the list of beta firmware updates released this week, I noticed a curious addition: a new âAdventure Raceâ activity profile designed for races that prohibit GPS navigation while racing. This means that some races require competitors to do their own, old-fashioned orienteering course with maps and a compass, rather than relying on GPS devices.
But of course, these athletes still want to save their race for the sake of posterity (becauseâ¦ Strava), but don’t want to break the rules that limit navigation aid. Many of these races / rules allow GPS devices that can only record, but not navigation or even distance tracking. So, until now, people have largely had to use lower performing, more basic GPS watches that often lack the battery life capabilities of Garmin’s high-end models (if at all).
For example, an older Forerunner 35 series device that can’t navigate (or Connect IQ) would be fine for some races, but has very limited range for adventure racing – especially compared to something like the Garmin Enduro. which can reach in the hundreds of hours of GPS activation time, depending on how it is configured.
Anyway, like I said, I was going through the bugfix list, mostly boring, when I noticed this one. And I thought it was curious enough to mention, although part of the population will think it’s silly (just like part of the population thinks Wahoo’s watch singing you happy birthday is silly) .
Thus, the feature is currently released in public beta for the Garmin Fenix ââ6 series (all editions), MARQ series and Enduro. This is part of the larger beta firmware update set, so you get a stack of other new features that Garmin has added to these watches in beta over the past few months, but has yet to upgrade. production for these watches (but have on other watches) including:
- Added Adventure Race activity
- Added the ability to rate the perceived exertion and sensation of a running, cycling or swimming activity.
- Added a sleep tracking widget with sleep score and information from Firstbeat Analytics.
- Adding metabolic calories to the total calories reported in the calorie data field and recorded in the activity file.
- Added setting to enable / disable workout audio prompts
- Updated workout audio messages for hundredth distance accuracy.
- Updated intensity minute determinations to align with CDC guidelines.
- Plus a bunch of other things under the âimprovedâ banner that we could pleasantly call ânewâ
Here are the links to the beta updates and the full list of all of those changes from basically 16.70 (most recent production version) until now:
So I loaded a Fenix ââ6 unit to run the firmware and see how it works, and run the beta firmware:
First, you’ll add the ‘Adventure Race’ activity profile just like you would any other random profile you’ve never used before, scrolling endlessly through the massive list of profiles and selecting it.
Once done, you can open it. As with the other GPS based profiles, it will still acquire satellites as usual and display coloring at the top that the GPS signal has been acquired. The same goes for optical HRs. And like the other profiles, it has a few data pages by default. In this case, it is a data page showing altitude, time, heart rate and duration. Then one showing the compass, and finally one showing your start time on a new “verification” page.
And while you can still customize the data pages / fields, that’s not entirely normal. You will not be able to add distance fields, navigation fields, map fields, or location / GPS coordinate fields. None of these are allowed. You are also not allowed to use any map data pages or any navigation related features / tools (such as course selection or routing options). Even the automatic lap is disabled, so you can’t determine the distance based on that.
In fact, beyond these data field tweaks / offs, there are a bevy of tiny ones (which I probably haven’t found all of them). For example, if you go to the âQuick Accessâ menu (press and hold the top left button), it will disable the ability to quickly view / record Lat / Long, as well as music and phone connectivity. When you hover over each of these options, they are now grayed out with a line through them and instead display âAdventure Race Activeâ. Additionally, all hotkeys are also disabled (and will say “Hotkeys are disabled in this activity”).
However, the singular (arguably huge) difference is that Connect IQ fields are allowed. Since countless CIQ fields display distance data, or even direct map / route data (like DWMap), that kind of leaves a huge hole in the whole theory.
Then again, I guess if someone is going to cheat this way, they are probably going to cheat another way as easily. Cheaters will cheat, and unfortunately that’s probably just a fact of life. Still, I find it hard to see why CIQ needs to be activated in this scenario, given the severity of the gap it opens, versus the benefits. Granted, there are some benefits – but this whole profile was designed to allow people to just capture their GPS running track after the fact, without boiling the ocean.
Beyond that, from a training point of view, you will start / stop like any other activity and it * logs * every bit of data like any normal run (it doesn’t show it all to you. just not halfway).
However, the last interesting information is that once the activity is complete, there is a new “Verification” tab in the list of post-workout data metrics:
When you open it, it shows you this:
I guess the idea is to show race officials this data or whatever. However, I could see how useful it would also be to have some sort of explanatory text to show race officials, like “This event was recorded in Adventure Racing mode, which prohibits access to data from navigation, distance and mapping during activity “.
Still, I’m sure someone will find this useful – and in many ways, Garmin’s strategy for quite some time – by continuing to add features that a small portion of the population finds useful. Ultimately covering virtually all use cases and edge cases.
Oh, and finally, to anticipate what will invariably be the first comment below: When will Garmin announce a Fenix ââ7? Most definitely 7 a.m. EST, Tuesday. Sometimes Wednesday or Thursday, but certainly still 7 a.m. EST. Never on a Monday or Friday, even at 7 a.m. Also, probably not this Tuesday. Maybe related to a show (does it still exist?) Or a race, but maybe not. Definitely before they announce a Fenix ââ8 – and certainly before a Fenix ââ10 or Fenix ââ11.
With that, thanks for reading!