So Much More Than Just a Watch!

The HUAWEI GT3 RUNNER Reviewed

Avid trail runner, open water swimmer and photographer by profession, Barbara Cole, was more than willing to test the new HUAWEI WATCH GT Runner and share her views on it with us.

Unboxing & First Impression

The watch really has a super-premium look and feel, and it really struck me how light it was when I first took it out the box. Wearing it around my training crew only reinforced my first impressions, with so many comments of how slick it looked, and again, how light it was. You don’t realise you are wearing a watch until you look at your wrist. The only wish-list item I would ask for is that the watch came with interchangeable watch straps, so you can change it to match different looks, and add some colour, but that’s just me.

Design

The watch looks great, but it is still tough enough to handle some proper wear and tear, showing that it is manufactured using premium and robust materials. I love that you can tailor-make the face of the watch with multiple faces that you can download off the app, and I had a lot of fun with this feature. I also love that one of the watches features like your heart rate analysis are a simple touch away off the main screen, while your current heart rate is shown all the time.

The only problem I experienced, which is more of a pet-hate for me, was that I had to deliberately lift my arm every time I wanted to see the time. Personally, I would prefer an option to show the screen all the time, albeit on a dimmer light, but still playing around to see what I prefer.

User Experience

I absolutely love the user experience of the watch in terms of the touch screen. It’s amazing, and makes it so easy to navigate between settings, as well as being super responsive, too. With one button on the side of the watch to access the main menu of options, it was super easy to navigate between all settings. You very quickly get used to how the touch screen operates. And if you’re like me, you aren’t a manual reading type person, you will still easily be able to find your way around the watch.

I found the set-up incredibly easy, downloaded the app to my phone, and linked the two easily. The only issue I did have was linking the device to my Discovery App in order to track my activities for Vitality, but to be honest, I don’t think it’s a Huawei issue.

Workout Modes Used

I’m currently nursing an injury, so not actively running, and thus I used the following modes:

  • Indoor Swimming
  • Indoor Cycling
  • Open Water Swimming
  • Outdoor Walk

What I loved

I loved the open water swimming mode! It picked up my heart rate so quickly and read it accurately, even in the water. What was super interesting here was that it recorded my distance in steps, too, adding to my daily step goal, so I’m definitely not complaining! I am concerned about long-term wear and tear from the salt water, but this watch seems to be built for it.

The detail in terms of each session that you can look at on the watch after a session is incredible, and then the extension into your app on your phone is there if you want to find out more, giving you a wealth of stats and figures after a workout. The options in terms of workouts available is also pretty impressive, with just about every activity I could think of.

Battery Life

This was excellent! They say you’ll get 14 days on the lowest energy mode, and on average my battery life was around 10 to 12 days, including workout modes, which I used most days. So, using all the features of the watch, still got me to just under two weeks. What was also great is that it charges very quickly, going from 5% to 95% in an hour on the wireless charger.

Health Integration Features

Sleep Tracking: I really like this feature, and although I am not one to sleep with my watch on, when I did so, the watch was very accurate in terms of sleep time and patterns. It was also insightful for me to see the level of detailed feedback you get from the watch when downloaded into the app, explaining sleep cycles and how much REM sleep versus Deep Sleep you get, and what this means.

Stress Management: This is not really a feature I would normally pay much attention to, but it was interesting to see that it did correlate to times where I was more stressed. I think the extension of this is how you then manage your stress levels, so that your Central Nervous System is not stressed continually at a level that is detrimental to your health.

GPS Accuracy: The watch supports five satellite systems, which should make it very accurate, but when I did compare it, in one open water swim, to another watch, the readings were slightly different. That said, the Huawei does recalibrate all the time, so I would imagine it would be more accurate overall, and the important point to note here is that it did accurately track the route I followed.

Fun Features I Enjoyed

  • Barometer
  • Compass

Last Thoughts

Overall, I really love this watch! The one obvious drawback, though, is that it’s not supported by STRAVA, and I think that’s pretty important, particularly with who their target market might be in terms of being performance-driven. Hopefully this is something that is addressed in the near future. The other drawback is that some features don’t work with an apple iPhone system, and the watch is better with an Android system.

On the whole, I think a watch like this can contribute to one making better decisions for yourself in terms of your health, as well as being more aware of how your body is reacting to daily situations, and what steps you need to take to counteract any negative impacts on your health. If a watch was a motivator to get moving, this would be it!

Our January Favourite is Back!

After a one-year absence, Bedfordview Athletics Club in partnership with Dis-Chem Pharmacies is proud to once again bring you the Dis-Chem Pharmacies Half Marathon. Taking place on Sunday 16 January 2022, this will be the 20th edition of this long-time favourite on the Johannesburg racing calendar.

Having seen this year’s race cancelled due to COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, the club is incredibly excited to be able to invite runners to once again visit the famous 21.1km course – some will say infamous – which winds its way through Bedfordview, Morninghill and Primrose. Though challenging, runners will be rewarded with spectacular views, particularly as the road crests and dives down Primrose Hill.

Unfortunately, the Centrum 5km dash will not take place in 2022, due to the entry limitations, and spectators and supporters will not be allowed at the event, especially at the race venue itself. However, there will be marshals stationed along the route, to offer runners words of encouragement as well as make sure all are kept safe on route. Also, due to the current restrictions, the race will only offer four water points, and runners are therefore encouraged to break out the hydration packs and bring their own water.

More Entries Than Originally Expected

Traditionally one of the biggest half marathons on the Central Gauteng calendar, the race will be restricted in numbers of entries this year, but as Race Director Charn Swart explains, this is already more than originally expected. “Under current guidelines from Athletics South Africa, we originally applied for a live event with 2000 runners, but they looked at our event plan and granted permission for 3000.

“Then, after entries were launched, we negotiated further with ASA and are delighted to announce we have received the go-ahead for a further 500 live entries! Our live event plan is viable for 4000 entries, so we are confident that we are able to cope with the approved 3500 entries safely, within, all current restrictions.”

More good news is that a further 500 virtual entries will be available for runners who cannot get a live race entry. The Virtual run will be untimed and unsupported and can be run from 17-23 January 2022. All 4000 entrants will receive a Dry-fit event T-shirt.

Charn is obviously just thrilled to see the race back on the calendar. “Hosting this race means a lot to our club. Runners are eager to compete after months of training without a real purpose, and we are also hopeful that races like ours will encourage new runners to get involved in road running, especially when they get a taste of the enjoyment of taking part in shorter distances. Most importantly, this gives running clubs a chance to recover financially after losing members that left due to there being no races on the calendar, and it also brings in much-needed revenue earned from hosting the race.”

Ready to Pick Up Your Race Pack?

As with all events, the topic of vaccinations is front of mind, and will come into play with the Dis-Chem Half Marathon as well. The event is open to both vaccinated and unvaccinated runners, but your vaccination status will determine when you can collect your race number and T-shirt. The three days of registration will be:

Thursday 13 January

Dis-Chem Nicolway

09:30-17:00

Friday 14 January

Dis-Chem Park Meadows

10:00-17:00

Saturday 15 January

Virgin Active Bedfordview

09:30-15:30

  • Fully vaccinated runners will be able to collect their race packs on any of the three collection days, and they will need to produce their vaccination certificate (note, not an SMS) and ID.
  • Partially vaccinated and unvaccinated runners will only be able to collect their race packs on Saturday 15 January – the day before the race – and will need to provide a valid negative Covid PCR test result not older than 48 hours. Alternatively, they can undergo an on-site Rapid Antigen test at race pack collection, at their own expense.
  • All athletes will be screened and have their temperature taken at collection venues and on race day.

On the topic of vaccinations, both Charn and Stan Goetsch of headline sponsor Dis-Chem are encouraging all runners to get vaccinated. By being vaccinated, mass events can operate again, knowing that all runners entering the event space have the ability to fight COVID-19. As Stan says, “While it is difficult to plan with certainty in these uniquely challenging times, Bedfordview Country Club Athletics and ourselves are looking ahead to once again witness the joy, the spirit and the excitement of the challenge of a live road running event at this traditional season opener.”

Charn leaves us with this, “Runners will have the best possible experience that we can offer on the day, within the COVID-19 protocols necessary to host a race.” So, will you be one of the lucky runners taking to the streets of Bedfordview? Then make sure you get your entry in right away, as they will be snapped up quickly!

What a comeback!

Every runner dreams of having that perfect race, when you feel like you could run all day. For Irvette van Zyl, 23 May was one of those days,
and it brought her an unexpected new IAU 50km World Record. Not just because she was supposed to withdraw after setting the pace for
30km, but because just over a year ago she thought her running career may be over. – By Sean Falconer

Nick Knows Best!

Nick Bester is a celebrated running coach in South Africa, having worked with some of our most successful runners, including Olympic hopefuls Gerda Steyn and Irvette van Zyl. THIRSTI Water recently caught up with Nick to get his insights into how runners should be hydrating when they run. It’s a must-read for every runner wanting to know how to drink before, during and after a run!

Spinning out of Control

With a total of 24 marathons and eight ultra-marathons to her name, Annalie Rich has really enjoyed her running career over the last decade-plus, but an inexplicable problem with vertigo and dizziness almost forced her to hang up her running shoes for good. This is her story, from crying in the shower in dejected frustration, to returning to the road with a new positive outlook.
– By Sean Falconer

treasure hunt

Some Nitro Served on a Plate

The world’s elite athletes are all running in plated shoes these days, because very simply put, they make you faster, and if you have that same need for speed, you should give the PUMA Deviate Nitro a try. Ed Sean Falconer gives his views on the latest PUMA shoe.

Over the years, I have found it interesting to watch the development of the tech in PUMA’s shoes. One of their projects that stood out for me was Mobium technology – introduced around 2013, if my memory serves – which featured a thin figure-of-eight bungee cord built into the midsole, which contracted and stretched with your foot to give the shoe better rebound properties. It was an interesting concept that unfortunately didn’t really hit the spot with the running market, but I give PUMA points for trying something new.

Now PUMA have come out with the Deviate NITRO, which the company describes as a “max cushion shoe with improved efficiency for long runs.” But that’s just marketing speak, and could just as easily describe every other running shoe on the market. No, the real story here is the new tech, and it starts with the carbon-composite plate embedded in a nitrogen-infused midsole!

Riding the Plate Wave

The midsole is made from PUMA’s new NITRO foam, which is a supercritical material that provides a lighter and bouncier ride than previous midsole materials from PUMA, even their IGNITE foam. In layman’s terms, they pump nitrogen into the compound as it is formed and baked, which then creates subtle bubbling that ensures better cushioning and springiness in the midsole.

PUMA then added the carbon-infused INNOPLATE, sandwiched between two layers of NITRO and running till midway in the forefoot. This plate is designed to really make your toe-off ‘pop’ as the shoe helps to propel you forwards… much like PUMA’s Mobium band was designed to do, but this is so much more effective and efficient!

When I ran in the shoe, I found it a little on the rigid side at slow speeds, but that’s understandable – this shoe is designed to help you go faster, after all. Once you get up even a little speed, and pivot ever so slightly more forward than you may be used to doing, those plates really kick in. Overall, I felt the shoe gave me the right balance between soft cushioning on landing and a snappy take-off.

The tooling of the shoe is rounded off by a PUMAGRIP outsole, which is particularly effective in the forefoot to ensure firm grip on the road as that plate does its ‘slingshot’ act. After all, the last thing you’d want with that extra power is loss of traction, like an over-revved car spinning its wheels. The stack height drop is 8mm (32mm in the heel, 24mm at the toe), which is pretty standard stuff for a well cushioned running shoe.

My Only Criticism…

The mesh upper of this shoe is breathable and looks both modern and cool – and personally, I love the bright orange colour, because I like my running shoes to look fast! The upper has minimal overlays, which is good – while they provide structure and form to an upper, they can make it less flexible and giving, and I think this shoe has just the right amount.

Furthermore, I like that the tongue has minimal padding and is gusseted (attached to the footbed), meaning it stays in place throughout your run, but at the same time my wider foot found the forefoot area roomy and comfy enough. That’s an important consideration for me, given that PUMA did build some of its shoes on a narrow last in years gone by, which I found too tight.

However, there was one part of the upper that rubbed me up the wrong way at first. The first time I put on the shoes, I noticed slippage in the collar around my ankle, and I put this down to the interesting design of an unpadded collar with two prominent pads a little lower down that wrap each side of the heel. I also found that the slightly harder upper edge of the heel cup area was digging into my Achilles. I therefore put the laces through the extra eyelets closest to the ankle and synched them really tight, and that took care of the slippage, and to a large extent the Achilles irritation as well, but I did find that thicker socks were better.

…But the Ride Solves That!

That said, once I got up to speed in the shoes, I quickly forgot about the collar, because the performance of the rest of the shoe was so good! This shoe seems to promote forefoot striking and a quicker toe-off, and thus the collar of the shoe doesn’t play nearly as prominent a role as it would if you were heel-striking and squishing down on your heels. So, my take on this is that each individual runner will need to experiment with lacing and socks to find the most comfortable fit, and when you get that right, you will feel the real benefit of these shoes and their snappy forefoot.

 

Get Them Here: The PUMA Deviate Nitro retails for a recommended R3999 and is available from PUMA stores and at PUMA.com

Oh So Close!

So what do you do when you’ve shattered the Comrades Marathon women’s record, won the Two Oceans Marathon in near-record time, and posted the fastest marathon by a South African in years? You go after the SA Marathon record… and you don’t let a global pandemic get in the way. That’s what Gerda Steyn did in the recent London Marathon. – BY SEAN FALCONER

Lucky Miya

Third Time Lucky!

They call it South Africa’s toughest mountain race, a life-changing adventure, and that’s why the K-Way SkyRun 100km is on many a trail runner’s bucket list, and winning it is one hell of a feather in the cap of any runner. And that makes it all the more impressive that Lucky Miya will be going after a third win this November. – BY SEAN FALCONER

Carla1_Andrea Molinaro

To Touch a Signpost

What’s a runner to do when you’ve been training for months for two ultra-marathons, and then suddenly the world goes into lockdown and all events gets cancelled? Well, SA-based British athlete and 2018 Comrades Marathon gold medallist Carla Molinaro went looking for a different challenge, and in the process wrote her name into the Guinness Book of Records. – By Sean Falconer