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Garmin has launched a new smartwatch focused on trail and ultramarathon running, amid a surge in the number of people ditching the roads and going off the beaten path.
Trail running activities are up 70 per cent during the pandemic when compared with the time before, Garmin said as it launched the new Enduro smartwatch.
The watch’s chief feature is its incredibly long battery life: using solar charging built-in to its screen, the Enduro can last up to 65 days, the company said. But with tweaks it can last even longer than that, with Garmin saying that with the GPS and other features switched off it has been measured at as much as 300 days.
But it also includes a range of other features intended for people who run on trails and over long distances, including a new “trail run VO2 max” feature that can test people’s fitness when off the roads, and changes to its “ClimbPro” feature that allows them to see how long a given ascent might be.
It also includes features specifically aimed at long ultra-marathon races, such as a “rest timer” that monitors how long people spend at aid stations, and shuts off the GPS tracking so that their time spent walking around, eating and drinking does not contribute to their race metrics.
In build, the watch is something like Garmin’s flagship Fenix 6X smartwatches, and uses a very similar design. But it gets rid of some features – including most notably maps, so that runners will have to rely on the “breadcrumb” trail – in the name of battery life and a slightly reduced price.
Garmin did not give details on specifically how it had increased the battery life, or what changes in the hardware or software had allowed it to achieve what is its longest battery life for a smartwatch.
But it noted that long battery life is not only aimed at those people who might be running long ultramarathons that last for days. The additional battery life will also mean that users can keep it on more regularly, said Garmin UK’s senior product category manager Richard Robinson: the watch is made for ultra-runners, but also those people who want “the lightest and longest battery life they can get their hands on”, he said.
The Enduro features Garmin’s health focused features such as its pulse oximeter for tracking how much oxygen is in the blood, and the Body Battery tool that aims to quantify a person’s energy levels. Mr Robinson noted that the extra battery life means that users will be able to use those more wellness-focused features without worrying about charging, even if they are not running ultra-marathon races or similar.
The watch starts at £700 and is available now. It comes with a new kind of nylon strap, and the option of DLC coating on the watch, Garmin said.
That compares with £849 for Garmin’s Fenix 6X with solar charging, though that has a range of additional features including maps music from services such as Spotify, as well as being slightly heavier and having a less long-lasting battery. The Fenix line is likely to get at least some of those same trail running features from the Enduro.
Garmin said that the watch was being released not just after the boom in trail running during the pandemic, but amid a much longer-term interest in the activity. It was announced just after the compayn signed up trail runner Tom Evans – who runs 100 mile races in intense conditions – as an ambassador.
In an interview with The Independent, Mr Evans noted that there are a number of specific advantages to trail running, including the fact that it is easier on the joints than running on pavements or roads. But he said that the growth was much better explained by the fact that it is “more enjoyable”.
“”Think of actually being able to get out of the city and get into the countryside, or get into the national park, or into the mountains, and actually be able to be at one with nature and feel the ground under your feet and breathe in that fresh air and avoid people – yeah, I can see why it's gotten so popular,” he said.
He noted that the new popularity amid the lockdown was unsurprising given the way that trail running offered a way to leave behind the stresses of life under the pandemic.
“You can disconnect yourself from from the world so quickly,” he said. “Whenever you turn on the radio, when you turn on the television or you watch the news, it's always a bit gloomy – and there's never really any good news and you can get quite down.
“And I think for me just to be able to go out into the trails and sort of random forest trails or wherever you are from your door then you can just forget about it. And you can sort of pause the world and go about – whether you're running for an hour or you're running for two hours, whatever it is, you're just completely oblivious to everything else going on in the world.”
The trail running focused watch is just the latest specific sport that Garmin has aimed to target with its own watch. Last year, it introduced a modified version of another of its watches aimed specifically at gamers.