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The Polar advantage

Posted by Matt Pepin, BostonGlobe.com Staff  April 7, 2012 07:00 AM

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100marcus_grimm.jpg Marcus Grimm is one of five Boston Marathon entrants testing the Polar RCX5 personal training computer and blogging about it for Boston.com
While testing out the Polar RCX5, one of my Garmin-clad buddies asked me if there were any features of the Polar that blew my Garmin 405 out of the water. Itís a fair question, as both devices offer runners a huge assortment of features, all certain to help you become a better athlete. But in my opinion, there is one clear advantage for the Polar, though itís admittedly only useful for certain runners on the fringe.

Last year, I was 43 miles into the New Jersey 50 Mile Ultra-Fest. It had been a dream day where everything thing had gone perfectly to that point. If the last leg of the race went well, I stood a great chance to come in under my stretch goal of eight hours.

Though I didnít realize it at the time, the Garmin 405 touts a training-mode battery life of eight hours. But of course, thatís under optimum charging conditions. Sure enough, about seven and a half hours into my race, the Garmin went blank, leaving me to hope I could withstand my pace without confirmation of it for the last few torturous miles. (The good news was that I did, finishing in 6th place in 7:55.)

By comparison, the Polar RCX5ís GPS unit gives 20 hours of power on a full charge. While the Garmin 310XT series boasts similar performance, it comes in a much bulkier unit. The RCX5 is a sleek, light, watch and the GPS unit can easily be worn on the arm or dropped into a pocket. So if youíre a fan of ultras (or forgetful about charging your GPS), the extra GPS battery life can be very important.

All of which goes to say that at the end of April, thereís a 50k ultra Iím eyeing that includes miles upon miles of single-track trail and thousands of feet of elevation change. The website cautions that if youíre a three-hour road runner, you could be looking at a seven hour day, or longer.

For a race like that, thereís no comparison; Iíll be toeing the line with the Polar RCX5.

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Look for updates, news, analysis and commentary from the following.
  • Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
  • Ty Velde is a 16-time Boston qualifier who's completed 12 consecutive Boston Marathons and 25 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 13th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
  • Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes

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