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The best watch for endurance athletes

When it comes to watches for ultra runners, is there any more desired feature than a long battery life? Sure, accurate data is a must — but that is a given. And runners have their own personal preferences for other features.

For me, I found my frustration rising during a 50-miler when I outlasted my Garmin battery. That was the turning point in which I knew I needed to find another watch that would allow me to pursue my longer race goals, first for my debut 100K and then later at 100-mile races.

My first foray into a new brand was with a Suunto Ambit 3 Run. That was a mistake.

While the Suunto battery life may have been better than my Garmin, I experienced other aggravations with the watch. The customer service was dreadful. The watch kept reverting to kilometers no matter how many times I changed the settings to miles. It was slow to pick up GPS in various locations.

Thank goodness earlier this year, I bought a Coros Apex. My Coros has delivered on its promise of unbelievable battery life, superior data and its ease of use.

Disclaimer: While I purchased my Coros at full price, I am an ambassador for the brand. Read on to learn more of the benefits of Coros watches. If you are interested in purchasing one, feel free to use my code CAP-Howard to get a free gift from the accessories page. Both items must be in the cart at checkout. The Coros Apex is cheaper ($300 for the 42mm version or $350 for the 46mm option) than a Garmin Forerunner 645 Music.

A true test at 100K

When I toed the line at the Ultra Race of Champions (UROC) in May, the 100K was not only a test of my fitness, it was a test of my Coros Apex battery.

We both passed.

I finished the race in the mountains of Virginia in just under 15:30. When I finally remembered to shut off the watch, as I was heading back to the hotel about 30 minutes afterward, it showed 61 percent battery life remaining. That roughly equates to its promised 30+ hours of battery life.

For me, it’s more than just the battery life. I want my running watch to be accurate, provide reams of important data and be easy to operate. The Coros Apex hits on all of those requirements and more.

I have tested the watch around areas that I have known to be certain distances and its data is spot on. The battery life is incredible as advertised. It’s so good I have to remind myself to charge the watch. But that is not required very often.

But if 30 or more hours of battery life is not good enough for you, Coros offers UltraMax mode. When the user selects this setting, the battery life using GPS can be extended up to 100 hours on Apex 46mm and 80 hours on Apex 42mm. In this mode, every two minutes, the GPS data is recorded for 30 seconds. So what happens for the other 90 seconds? Coros has designed Apex so that it uses motion sensors, machine learning algorithms and individual running models..

It was simple to sync the watch to Strava and FinalSurge. So simple that I have not had to do anything since connecting them. Immediately after a run while I cool down, I hear a beep which means that my run has already been synced.

The Coros is also simple and intuitive to use. I honestly don’t know if there are operating instructions in the box or online. I have never had to refer to them, which is more of a testament to the watch’s ease of use than my ability to figure out tech gear. Believe me, I used to think I was tech savvy but not anymore.

Other viewpoints

But don’t just take my word for it. One of the most notable reviewers of tech gear for endurance athletes recently posted a pretty damning report on Garmin and its technology.

Ray Maker, aka D.C. Rainmaker, opened his post, by writing, “To the casual observer, one might assume Garmin’s biggest competitors are Apple, Fitbit, and in certain cycling circles – Wahoo. But in reality, I’d disagree. Garmin’s biggest competitor is themselves. Or more specifically, their lack of focus on solving bugs that ultimately drive consumers to their competitors. In effect, my bet is the vast majority of time a person chooses a non-Garmin product over a Garmin one is not because Garmin lost the features or price battle. It’s because that person has been bit one too many times by buggy Garmin products.”

Overall, I have had good experience with Garmin’s customer service. However, that is based on multiple incidents during which I had tech issues in getting my watch to sync or other basic problems. As noted, I have not had any such issues with my Coros.

A ‘home run on the first try’

You may not be familiar with Coros but it’s gaining popularity in the endurance sports world.

Take, for example, Camille Herron, who wore the Coros Apex on Dec. 8, when she set multiple world records during Desert Solstice. Herron ran 162.9 miles in 24 hours around a track — an average pace of 8:40. That set world records for running 100 miles on a track (13:25) and 24 hours.

“I didn't realize how much love there was for Coros until I went to Lake Sonoma,” she says. “Everybody had a Coros. That was really cool to see.”

Herron had tried out the Coros Pace first. On one charge, she was able to get in a 120-mile training week.

"This watch is crazy,” she raves. “Every time I would finish my workout and get back, it would, automatically, upload to the app. It just made my life easier. I didn't have to worry about the battery life. I didn't have to worry about messing with it, uploading it to the app or Strava. I knew right away that it was a great watch. It just seemed like it was built for ultra running.”

The day before Desert Solstice, Coros sent a rep to give Herron an Apex to test.

“It was my first time wearing that watch,” she recalls. “It still had 32 percent battery life left after 24 hours. Everybody was asking me about my watch, after the race, and taking pictures of it. I think I hit a home run with this watch on the first try.”

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