Author Topic: GPS ban for Welsh Fell Running  (Read 4716 times)

mattc

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GPS ban for Welsh Fell Running
« on: January 08, 2019, 01:13:27 pm »
https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-46527865
"
Fell runners have been banned from using GPS to help them navigate in competitive races in Wales.

A proposal put forward in the summer has been adopted for all Welsh Fell Runners Association (WFRA) registered races as of Tuesday.

The organisation said GPS "threatens the fundamentals of our sport".

Runners can record their route on a GPS watch, but cannot follow a pre-set route, use a device showing a map or pre-load checkpoints on their device.

Altimeters are still allowed and people can use devices which show how far they have run.


The move comes after a vote held by members at the AGM of the WFRA, which the organisation said was a response to feedback from members.

Secretary Andrew Blackmore said: "The use of GPS devices for navigational purposes is not commensurate with the ethos of our sport.

"Fell running is a simple sport - you have some hills and some checkpoints to visit. You use your skill and fitness to get between these points as fast as possible."

"


Sounds like they have a lot of similar discussions to some within AUK!
Has never ridden RAAM
---------
No.11  Because of the great host of those who dislike the least appearance of "swank " when they travel the roads and lanes. - From Kuklos' 39 Articles

Re: GPS ban for Welsh Fell Running
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2019, 01:20:21 pm »
Quite right in a race scenario and where navigation by compass/map is a core component of the sport.

Audax, not being racing, it doesn't really matter.
"Yes please" said Squirrel "biscuits are our favourite things."

Re: GPS ban for Welsh Fell Running
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2019, 01:25:42 pm »
As a trail runner who has completed precisely one  ::-) Category A fell run I have been watching this story with interest.  There is a balance to be met between inclusiveness and having thousands of inexperienced/over confident runners traipsing over vulnerable habitats.  GPS is a good back-up but should be just that - for when the regular map-reading or route knowledge isn't working.  You can't possibly get as much detail from a GPS watch route as you can from a good map.  Some of the fell races are very reliant on knowing the route and have minimal marking on the trail.  There can be real risks of running over a crag or getting into tricky ground in poor conditions wearing nowt much more than shorts and vest.  By banning GPS, it perhaps excludes those without good map skills but probably supports those who couldn't otherwise be competitive because other runners have a technological advantage.

whosatthewheel

Re: GPS ban for Welsh Fell Running
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2019, 01:35:14 pm »
I wouldn't be against a "no navigation devices" policy in AUK, for as long as also route sheets get scrapped. There is fundamentally no difference in the use of a GPS Vs the use of a route sheet, they are both skill-less ways to navigate.

Problem is, it would be the end of Audax...  ::-)

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: GPS ban for Welsh Fell Running
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2019, 01:40:55 pm »
Competing without GPS seems a lot like competing without aerodynamic aids, or competing without an engine:  Perfectly reasonable, if that's how you choose to define the particular sport.  Navigation using a map and compass is certainly a skill, and I'd argue a more challenging one than using a GPS receiver effectively.

I agree with Greenbank that it doesn't really matter for audax.  Which isn't to say that an non-GPS navigation challenge, akin to the fixed wheel challenge, wouldn't be a reasonable thing to have.

As a general rule, categories are more inclusive than bans.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Re: GPS ban for Welsh Fell Running
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2019, 01:45:23 pm »
Surely the idea of Audax is that within the time limits people can finish a course as they please  ? After all the only person we are competing against are ourselves ?

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: GPS ban for Welsh Fell Running
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2019, 01:49:06 pm »
Surely the idea of Audax is that within the time limits people can finish a course as they please  ? After all the only person we are competing against are ourselves ?

Yes, but with recognition for particular forms of masochism, such as barrows, downwrongs and not bringing enough gears.  Doesn't seem unreasonable to add analogue navigation to that list if there's enthusiasm for such a thing.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

fuaran

  • rothair gasta
Re: GPS ban for Welsh Fell Running
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2019, 01:51:46 pm »
For most hill races, the main advantage is whether you are already familiar with the route, or if you can follow someone else who knows the route.

It is not orienteering, it is just about running up and down hills. So what's wrong with using whatever methods you like to navigate.

Re: GPS ban for Welsh Fell Running
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2019, 01:52:11 pm »
GPS has transformed mountain navigation. Munro-bagging is one area where fewer skills are now required. It's now less of an achievement.

I don't think GPS has devalued Audax, as the courses in the past were very straightforward. The laney rides we do now make completion without GPS more of a challenge.

CrazyEnglishTriathlete

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Re: GPS ban for Welsh Fell Running
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2019, 01:55:21 pm »
I ran Dartmoor last year, with a piece of paper with a few key compass bearings, and cut out bits of map.  It was a lot easier to run with others who had GPS trackers than consult the map.

On a more serious note, I wonder how long it is before they have a runner get lost / suffer from hypothermia / fall over a crag / half drown in a river crossing that was worse than they expected, and there is external pressure for them to reverse the decision.
Eddington Numbers 124 (imperial), 168 (metric) 516 (furlongs)  110 (nautical miles)

Re: GPS ban for Welsh Fell Running
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2019, 01:58:16 pm »
So what's wrong with using whatever methods you like to navigate.
Inclined to agree, though batteries never run out on a map and compass leaving you clueless as to where you may be (as long as you have the map skills of course).

T42

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Re: GPS ban for Welsh Fell Running
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2019, 02:04:31 pm »
I've done plenty of Audax without a GPS.  The transition years were interesting. I first used GPS on a 200 back in 2011 and left lots of blokes floundering with maps at intersections that I breezed straight through.  Remembering earlier rides, trying to read maps with routes marked in orange under sodium lighting, or searching a village to find an unsignposted road, I'd say that GPS makes a hell of a difference to overall time. We didn't have minutely-detailed route sheets, though, just lists of places to go through, the road numbers & the distances.
I've dusted all those old bottles and set them up straight.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: GPS ban for Welsh Fell Running
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2019, 02:07:55 pm »
So what's wrong with using whatever methods you like to navigate.
Inclined to agree, though batteries never run out on a map and compass leaving you clueless as to where you may be (as long as you have the map skills of course).

Swings and roundabouts.  Anyone who hasn't been in a cave for the last 20 years knows how to manage battery life.  Maps are fragile and don't work in the dark, but tend to fail much more gracefully than electronics.  It's much easier to get un-lost with a GPS, and it's easier to make plans with a map.  If you want to carry a lot of detailed maps, electronics wins over paper for weight and bulk.  Etc.

I think it's perfectly reasonable to have map reading and GPS skills competitions, such as orienteering and geocaching.  Whether you consider either of those to be core components of running up hills or riding a bike a long way is entirely subjective.  It seems that the WFRA have decided that map reading is.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Re: GPS ban for Welsh Fell Running
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2019, 02:13:47 pm »
I've never done any fell running so can't comment on how GPS or map reading or following signs interplays with that. But for audax, I think it would be unreasonable to ban GPS (or indeed to ban route sheets or make either compulsory), and while an Audax Paper Navigation Challenge might in itself be a perfectly decent idea, I question the need for yet another award.
An ungovernable laughter, a joyous agitation which makes the summer stretching before you seem like an unrolling canvas on which you might draw those first rude pure strokes that are free. (Capote)

Re: GPS ban for Welsh Fell Running
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2019, 02:20:59 pm »
I wouldn't want an outright ban on GPS navigation for audax, but I do like the idea of routesheet & map only navigation on some events.

When I'm following a line on a Garmin I am less aware of where I am than when I'm using a map.

Kim

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Re: GPS ban for Welsh Fell Running
« Reply #15 on: January 08, 2019, 02:42:37 pm »
When I'm following a line on a Garmin I am less aware of where I am than when I'm using a map.

Agreed.  Routesheets are even worse, in this respect.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

frankly frankie

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Re: GPS ban for Welsh Fell Running
« Reply #16 on: January 08, 2019, 02:43:24 pm »
Navigation as a skill is not an intrinsic part of audaxing.  We'd have to ban blind tandem stokers if it was.
"This is a complex subject, with a need for more than one highlighter pen."

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: GPS ban for Welsh Fell Running
« Reply #17 on: January 08, 2019, 02:44:26 pm »
Navigation as a skill is not an intrinsic part of audaxing.  We'd have to ban blind tandem stokers if it was.

And tandems generally.

And group riding.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...

LittleWheelsandBig

  • Whimsy Rider
Re: GPS ban for Welsh Fell Running
« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2019, 02:55:57 pm »
There are brevets in Oz where riders are literally on the same road for 50 or 80km, checkpoint to checkpoint with no turning onto other roads. Not much navigation required there.

I did an Indian 200 in 2017 and rode on (I think) seven roads in total.
Wheel meet again, don't know where, don't know when...

Re: GPS ban for Welsh Fell Running
« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2019, 03:02:24 pm »
Navigation as a skill is not an intrinsic part of audaxing.  We'd have to ban blind tandem stokers if it was.

And tandems generally.

And group riding.

And anyone who's ridden the route before and knows the way, unless we change the route every time or have no repeat events.

Karla

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Re: GPS ban for Welsh Fell Running
« Reply #20 on: January 08, 2019, 03:11:07 pm »
So what's wrong with using whatever methods you like to navigate.
Inclined to agree, though batteries never run out on a map and compass leaving you clueless as to where you may be (as long as you have the map skills of course).

If I had a penny for every time I've heard an argument of the form "A is superior to B because it doesn't [insert specific failure mode particular to B]" ...

Re: GPS ban for Welsh Fell Running
« Reply #21 on: January 08, 2019, 03:51:27 pm »
The WFRA complete ban is in contrast to the (English) FRA revised policy where individual organisers can decide to allow GPS or not. And on those events which proscribe the use of GPS, a runner is at liberty to carry one. But if used, perhaps in an emergency or for any reason, that runner is required to declare themselves non-competitive.
Navigation when cycling long distances is a skill but a lower level of expertise is required where a GPS with a loaded track/route is available/used. Use of GPS devices mean riders seem (to me) to be far less aware of where they are, where they're going and how far it is. And reacting to changes eg GPS goes down or a road is closed, is often much easier (if the expertise has been developed) with a carried paper map. The seasoned navigator (that's me, with or without GPS, who nevertheless still gets miswayd) with their paper map and route preparation in the bag, can do what they do well and be happy to be of service to those who wish to follow.

mattc

  • n.b. have grown beard since photo taken
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Re: GPS ban for Welsh Fell Running
« Reply #22 on: January 08, 2019, 04:03:48 pm »
On a more serious note, I wonder how long it is before they have a runner get lost / suffer from hypothermia / fall over a crag / half drown in a river crossing that was worse than they expected, and there is external pressure for them to reverse the decision.
If you read the article, there is comment that people HAVE died/seriously injured when their GPS batteries ran out => got lost => fell off something.

[The argument would be that anyone competing with just map+compass is far more likely to deal with a crisis equipped with just map+compass than a GPS-dependent. ]
Has never ridden RAAM
---------
No.11  Because of the great host of those who dislike the least appearance of "swank " when they travel the roads and lanes. - From Kuklos' 39 Articles

Re: GPS ban for Welsh Fell Running
« Reply #23 on: January 08, 2019, 04:24:49 pm »
GPS has transformed mountain navigation. Munro-bagging is one area where fewer skills are now required. It's now less of an achievement.

I don't think GPS has devalued Audax, as the courses in the past were very straightforward. The laney rides we do now make completion without GPS more of a challenge.

Indeed. I started as an organiser when hardly a rider used a GPS and stopped when about 90% of the field was using a GPS. Over these 9 years I could improve many of my rides replacing busy roads by calm and beautiful lanes, often without signposts. In the beginning years I had to scrap a beautiful section since the only instruction I could give was 'turn left at blue Maria statue'. A bit difficult to spot in the dark, at the end of a 600.
I definitely prefer audax routes designed with a GPS in mind leading me to small and beauiful lanes.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: GPS ban for Welsh Fell Running
« Reply #24 on: January 08, 2019, 04:45:21 pm »
[The argument would be that anyone competing with just map+compass is far more likely to deal with a crisis equipped with just map+compass than a GPS-dependent. ]

That's probably true, but may simply be because map+compass is now niche, and people using niche methods seem more likely to know what they're doing.  I'm sure 20 years ago the GPS users did just fine (probably by carrying a sufficiency of batteries and a map[1]+compass, rather than blindly trusting their tech), and the insufficiently paranoid were among the map+compass users.


[1] To be fair, a GPS receiver of that era was generally considered to be a substitute for the compass, rather than the map.  You couldn't really do anything useful with one without mapreading skills.
To ride the Windcheetah, first, you must embrace the cantilever...