Discussion: Distance Tracking Devices in AR
in: Adventure Racing; General;
I find this an interesting topic. I find it odd that in most ARs bike speedometers are legal and other methods for tracking distance with no location display are illegal (Garmin FR 110, 210, etc.). Seems to me like they perform the same function and provide the same advantage.
Orienteering has allowed these types of devices for years. They have started to limit use in certain races. Although they allow them, they trust the orienteers not to use the distance feature. This may not work the same in AR but I pose the question why not allow the use of distance tracking devices.
I personally don't know if I like the idea of allowing distance tracking devices in AR but I feel the rule should be consistent. Allowing them would certainly change the way you navigate. In orienteering I would argue that using the distance device has little advantage at the speed you are traveling and if anything it slows down a competitive racer. In an AR you would be travelling at a slower speed and have much more time to utilize the device. At the same sense it would still take skill to use the device just like it takes skill to use pace counting. We just now have a more reliable tool. Don't we make upgrades in using new more reliable technology all the time. Why not make this upgrade.
I personally like the way orienteering is: you can wear the device as a learning and information tool. You are told and trusted not to use the distance. I have no problem following this rule and can trust other racers not to cheat. There are so many other ways to cheat in an AR without anyone knowing that I already have to trust my opponents.
A couple of posts from your's truly:
Why the GPS Hate?
GPS and AR Revisited
I think a big part of the discrepancy is the source of the device's info - bike speedometers are a self-contained information system; GPS watches rely on receiving information from external sources.
Seagull, I think I see your point but I would still argue that the information obtained from external sources is no different than the information generated from the self-contained system. As a racer I don't really care about the source of the information, all I care about is the information itself and its reliability.
O9Man, interesting blogs. I think I had a similar response as others to the first which prompted you to write the second. It was nice to have that clarification right away. I think I agree with most of your statements in the second article. I think my main argument to allow GPS with display and certain other features is (like you said most others shared) that it allows (a person knowledgeable about how to use the GPS) to always know where they are, follow a route on the screen, and match the map in hand. I think that is a big advantage to those that invest time before the race that I think should be part of true navigating during the race (something, that I think, that is inherent to AR, orienteering, and also requires significant investment before the race, and talent). Without venturing off topic like your comments I feel that is a pillar to AR and although it may not be a “rule” most racers wouldn’t call it an AR if it wasn’t a rule.
You have to learn how to keep your bearing and read the terrain as opposed to watching and following the arrow on the screen. Sure being able to match the terrain or pick better routes will help you move faster but there is little required to follow an arrow and that closes the gap. And if for some reason you couldn't follow the arrow you probably have some other serious issues but still the GPS tells you where you need to go next to move forward (assuming you know how to use it). Again skills that I think should be required out on the race course instead of learning how to use a tool, not a skill, that will do it for you.
I think that was a key realization. What tools do we allow in an AR and what skills does an AR require. I would argue that a GPS (tool) is not allowed and navigation with map and compass (two tools allowed) is a required skill in all true ARs. Is pace counting a required skill? You might say for now it is, but I rarely use pace counting and tend to rely more on reading terrain.
One part of the question I raised was that since we don’t require a distance tracking skill on the bike why require it on foot. I personally do most of my distance tracking using the terrain as opposed to a speedometer or pace counting anyway. That’s not to say I don’t use the speedometer to verify location or occasionally rely heavily on it. I can also honestly say if I was allowed to use a distance tracking tool on foot I probably would utilize it to verify my position in certain scenarios and rely on it at times.
I won't argue that a RD couldn't allow a GPS to be used but it drastically changes the feel of the race from a navigational standpoint. You are changing the skills and tools required. Ones which I think (and I would argue most true AR racers would agree) are pillars of AR. In the comments you talk about this a little but I don't feel I would be as "happy" with a race that allowed GPS to that extent. I am not sure if no longer requiring the skill of pace counting and allowing the use of a distance tracking tool on foot would significantly change AR. That was the other part of the question that I was asking.
Like I said I like the tool primarily as an informational and educational tool post-race and am disappointed when I don’t get to use that aspect of it. I don't mind using pace counting when needed, although as stated I don't use it a lot. I guess my hope would be that RDs would allow me to wear my watch and trust me not to use it. Similar to our phones.
This discussion thread is closed.