From a single entry in 2009 (and a DNF), to 9 in 2010 (and the first ever set of Comrades Marathon finishers from India, of which I was fortunate enough to be one), India has come a long way to ultra running, and in particular, the Comrades Marathon, the world’s largest and most popular ultra. This year sees 97 registered runners from India (of which I expect 60-70 percent to turn up on race day). Here’s the participant list.
2016 Comrades Participants
Now 97 is a really huge number, coming from a country where running has really taken off in the last few years, with great interest in participating in unique and challenging races worldwide, including Boston Marathon, MDS, Badwater, Ultraman events, etc.
So, how do these numbers break up for 2016. Where are these runners coming from, which city or group do they belong to. Here’s a summary:
No. of Runners
Surti Runners (Surat)
Chennai Runners (Chennai)
TopGear MIG (Mumbai)
Striders Miles (Mumbai)
So clearly, runners from Surat, Mumbai and Chennai dominate the India participation. There are many more runners, with no particular affiliation with a running group, and I would guess that besides these cities, Bangalore and Delhi NCR would also be sending significant number of runners.
All the best to all these participants from India!!!
This is really great news. Like I mentioned in our earlier TomTom Spark review post, this one is a really value option in the running market currently, vis a vis the cost/feature comparison. Well, on May 29th, these watches will be $50 off on Amazon.com, as part of a sale weekend. Grab your pick from the following:
You can get these watches shipped directly from Amazon.com to India, via the international shipping option. How much do you save doing so, versus buying it in India from say Amazon.in, you ask? Here’s the math:
I checked this for the basic TomTom Spark model listed currently for $149.98 on Amazon.com. Adding to the cart showed an additional charge of $29.99 for shipping and handling, so about 20% over the listed price. Total cost: $180.
Cost in India of the same watch on Amazon.in is currently Rs 11,899/-. Buying from Amazon.com US store will cost us $180, or Rs 12,121/-, almost same as Amazon.in price. But when you add the $50 discount, this will become $130, so, Rs 8,755/-. Now that’s some serious money saved (about Rs 3,000) over the India rates for this sale period.
If you are looking to get a decent GPS watch, well, this is a great time to go for one!
C.Vox is a Gurgaon based tech company driving innovation in the field of wearable technology, and tech-fitness sports apparel. Their goal is to make a positive impact on your active life by enhancing real-time performance and experience while you are on the go.
So, when I was presented with a Music-enabled T-shirt at the annual Runner of the Year awards, I was quite fascinated by the stuff, to try it out and see if this is something which can actually work for us runners.
How Music Benefits Runners
It is well known how music impacts running. Not all runners prefer to run with music, but there are some definite benefits for those who do:
Music can sometimes make running feel easier, lowering perception of effort
Provides ongoing stimulus and generally leaves you feeling more positive
Can help you run to a target cadence (say 180 spm), depending on your music of choice and the beats per minute it generates.
There will always be pro and anti music camps, but if I were to generalize, music helps a majority of runners enjoy their exercise. And C.Vox tech T-shirt enables that for runners by providing built-in earphones to put on in your ears, and a built in pocket to place your mobile phone or music player inside and to keep it from moving around too much while running (which is quite important).
Here’s how the music enabled t-shirt works:
The earphones come out of the tee neck, and you plug them in to your ears. No struggling with the loose wires hanging down to the phone or music player in your shorts or waist pouch.
The internal wiring connects the headphones to the pocket at the tee bottom, where the phone gets connected. The pocket was good enough to fit my Nexus 5, though I think anything larger would struggle to get in.
That’s it basically, you start your music device, put it in the pocket, and you are good to go on your run!
Now comes the tough part. What happens when you get down and dirty, and the tee needs a good wash. Tech comes in here too to your help. The earphones are made detachable from the tee. Remove them, wash the tee, and put them back on, its quite simple really.
Now some tough questions. All this tech goes into one tee, so when I need a tee change, and this one’s not washed up, I on locked out. The technology stays with the tee, and does not move from tee to tee. So, this means you basically need to buy as many tees as you want to use in your running with music on. You may be able to do with one, other folks may want to have a couple to make the job of switching tee easier if one is in the laundry.
Where To Buy
Finally, all this good stuff if available on the C.Vox website at cvox.com. check out the stuff there, they have a wide variety of music enabled wearable tees and jackets. The tee material is 70% polyester, 20% polyamide and 10% elastane, good stuff for a running tee.
The review TomTom Spark unit used for this review was provided by TomTom India. It was used over a period of a month, and will be returned back to TomTom after the review. Lets begin.
The TomTom Spark GPS running watch was announced in Sept, 2015, and brings in a variety of variants, with the following highlight features:
Lightweight, designed to be worn 24 hours
Bluetooth music with 3GB on board storage
GPS for pace/distance
168 x 144 high-contrast LCD display
Battery life: 11 hours with GPS, 5 hours with everything on including optical HR and Bluetooth music
The highlight feature of the TomTom Spark is of course the on board music, which means you no longer have to carry that bulky phone in your pocket or put inside your waist belt. Upload songs, create playlists, grab your bluetooth headphones and run along!
For people who do heart rate based training, the watch has optical HR to guide you. If you need to know more about how to use your heart rate to train better, check out this article from TomTom.
The watch in running mode has a three field display. One big center field which can be customized on the run to choose any one of those available (via the big scroll button), and the two small ones at bottom left and right, which an be customized from the settings menu of the watch to display the metric of choice. Following data fields are supported on the watch.
Heart Rate Zone
The TomTom Spark comes in the widest combination of models I have seen, ever, in a single watch. Here’s what on offer (current Indian prices from Amazon.in and USD prices from Amazon.com):
TomTom Spark (Rs 11,899 / $129)
TomTom Spark cardio (Rs 17,999)
TomTom Spark Music ($182)
TomTom Spark Music + Headphones (Rs 18,699 / $209)
Now that’s a pretty heady mix of variants to choose from. Basic variant just gets you a GPS watch with the usual pace, distance, time stuff (with a basic intervals feature as well). This is very similar to the older watch from TomTom, the TomTom Runner, which is now being phased out. Beyond that you can decide depending on your personal preferences.
Like to hear music on your runs? Go for one with the music option. You can pair that with your own favorite headphones, or pay some more and go for the bundle which has the headphones included. TomTom people gave me the Plantronics BackBeat FIT wireless headphones, a reasonably costly set of bluetooth headphones specially designed for an active lifestyle. The music bundle comes with TomTom headphones if that’s what you would prefer.
Website and Features
TomTom has a basic website, which offers a neat display of your runs. This data is transferred from your watch either via the TomTom mobile phone app or installing the TomTom MySports app on your computer (Windows or Mac) and connecting your watch to it after the run. The runs are further synced to your app of choice, be it Endomondo, RunKeeper, MapMyFitness, Nike+, TrainingPeaks, Strava, besides a host of other supported apps. As you can see in the images below, TomTom does not display the run cadence through the run, but only the final stride rate figure at the end.
The price range for the TomTom Spark watches ranges from $129 for basic GPS watch to $274 for the highest end all inclusive one. That’s a very wide range. If we consider what’s on offer, particularly in India, in that range, we find the following products:
Garmin Vivoactive HR GPS Smartwatch – a great fit for people interested in optical HR and also smartphone notifications and call alerts, a feature lacking in Spark (Rs 28,000/$249)
Garmin Forerunner 230 – the mid range runner’s special watch with advanced running metrics not found either in Vivoactive series or the Spark, like VO2Max estimator, Recovery advisor, race predictor, custom workouts (Spark has very basic intervals feature) (Rs 22,990/$249)
Garmin Forerunner 220 (and 225 with optical HR) – older versions of the Garmin Forerunner 230/25 series, but very attractively priced. (Rs 14,990/$124) (235 – Rs 22,000/$219)
Choosing your GPS Watch
So, how to choose a GPS watch given all this? It remains quite simple really, and totally defined by the runner. If you are in for a basic GPS watch which gives you accurate time, distance and pace, then my recommendation is the TomTom Spark basi variant. If is much more complete than other entry level variants from Garmin like Forerunner 15, 25, etc) in terms of battery life, ability to do intervals, Quick GPS fix, stride rate, more data fields, etc.
If on the other hand what you want is an advanced runners watch with custom intervals, race prediction, recovery advisor, etc then again, the choice is very clear. Go for the advanced Garmin Forerunner series like FR 220, 225, 230, 235. These options are simply not available on the TomTom Spark.
Finally, for the music fans, this is where the Spark excels. With 3GB of music capacity on board, there is no need for carrying the phone along with, a feature not offered by any other mainstream GPS running watch currently. This is also immensely useful for people like me who are no fans of music while running, but make use of music to run to a fixed cadence. For example, I wanted to try running at 180 spm, and so I searched online for music which has beats at 180 bpm. Running to music for a target Cadence is much easier than running to a monotonous metronome beat, and is easier to pace to it.
So, there it goes. This is my review of the TomTom Spark. You can check it out on the Amazon.in store online and buy it there, or get it shipped from someone coming over from the US if you buy it on Amazon.com.
It’s Sept 30th, and that means its the last date to book your Grand Prix Run ticket at the special early bird rates. From tomorrow, the rates go up a bit. You would also have seen that the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon registrations closed yesterday. If you want to experience a well organized run with great support and volunteers, fantastic venue, the best racetrack in India actually, chip-timed, simply put, there will not be better race to capture all that.
10K, 5K, 3K Runs
5K * 4 Relay
What you get when you register for the Grand Prix Run?
Run on India’s best racetrack.
Enjoy the lovely mid-December Delhi NCR weather.
Complete support for every runner, slow or fast. We don’t pack our stuff till you do.
Extended 4 hours support for runners looking to do their long run as part of Mumbai Marathon training, at no extra cost. Just register for 21K, and rest is free!
Beautiful F1 themed finisher medal and online timing certificate
Event chip-timed by Timing Technologies, the best in class timing solutions in India.
Event is expected to get recognition as a 2017 Mumbai Marathon qualifier
A variety of events to meet the needs of every runner, from 3K to Half Marathon, including a Kids only run.
No problems of traffic, police, red-lights, etc. You own the track on Dec 13th!
All this, at really value for money prices.
Register for the event at Grand Prix Run website and take advantage of early birds rates ending on October 1st.
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