NEW YORK, October 11, 2013 — The GoPro Ironman World Championship on Saturday, October 12 puts 2,000 of the world’s toughest triathletes to the test on a 140.6-mile course around Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i. Live coverage of the race begins at 6 a.m. HT and 12 p.m. ET online at Ironman.com. A recap of the race will air nationally on NBC on Saturday, November 16 at 4:30 p.m. ET.
In honor of the occasion, “Run, Karla, Run!” tested two watches that are part of the Timex Ironman collection: the Timex Ironman Run Trainer 2.0 GPS and Timex Ironman Sleek 50-Lap.
After wearing them in sprint triathlon training and on race day, how do they stack up?
Timex Ironman Run Trainer 2.0 GPS
Getting started with the Timex Ironman Run Trainer 2.0 GPS really is as easy as 1-2-3. The watch is comfortable to wear with a nicely slim profile. Its light weight of 58 grams, compared to 65.7 for its predecessor, makes it easy to wear for long runs and workouts, even for small-wristed women. It is not the most stylish watch, but it gets points for offering an option in matte grey with bright yellow accents in addition to the basic black with orange.
The high-resolution display screen truly is crisp and as easy to use as advertised. Menu setup and navigation is straightforward and intuitive. However, the font sizes are a bit on the small side, making reading splits mid-run challenging at times.
Runners can customize three pages of workout data with two or three lines each, choosing from over 20 options like pace, splits, and heart rate. Set intervals by time or distance, then track them automatically or manually. There is no on-screen tapping to mark splits like some other Timex Ironman watches, but the watch’s side buttons work well and are just as easy to use. An auto-stop function will also pause timing when it senses you have stopped running, and automatically resume once you are moving again. And the watch itself will store up to 15 workouts with 100 laps per workout.
Want your watch to remind you to drink water or eat a gel at set intervals? This one will. Audio or vibrating alerts for pacing, speed, distance, hydration and nutrition remind you to stay on track with your workout plans.
Getting a GPS signal in a reasonable amount of time has traditionally been a challenge for city-dwelling GPS wearers in general. The Timex Ironman Run Trainer 2.0 was hit or miss at finding a signal quickly in the shadows of New York City’s skyscrapers. But the watch finds its signal quickly in open-sky areas, like a beachfront road in Hawai’i or on race day in Montauk, N.Y.
Tracking via GPS is also accurate, giving dependable real-time feedback on pacing, speed, distance, time, heart rate and more.
There is a reason the watch is called the Run Trainer. Though it is water-resistant to 50 meters and approved for swimming, the watch is not meant as a GPS swim trainer. As Timex states, the GPS functionality does not work under water whatsoever. The watch beeps repetitively as it searches for a GPS signal under water. On race day, however, testers still wore the watch in the swim to log time, and the watch worked well once on land coming out of the swim and going into the bike. GPS was back in action logging speed on the bike and pace on the run.
The optional heart rate monitor fits snugly, but comfortably for a long run. Best of all, it picks up a runner’s heart rate quickly and is incredibly responsive throughout a workout. Our testers saw their heart rates moving immediately on uphills and downhills.
The Run Trainer 2.0 also comes bundled with the free online TrainingPeaks log, loaded with features for obsessing over workouts. With maps, graphs charting time, speed, elevation, heart rate and pace, and a section for notes, it’s got all the functionality a runner needs to build a comprehensive training log. Uploading runs is easy with the included USB charging cable. Runners can also manage their watch’s settings from their computer instead of the watch-face itself.
The Timex Ironman Run Trainer 2.0 needs constant attention when it comes to battery life. It charges quickly, but if you forget to charge it between uses or leave it in GPS mode, you might be out of luck. The battery lasts 8 hours in GPS mode.
A bonus feature that some GPS watches overlook is a simple alarm clock. The Run Trainer 2.0 has one, along with three Indiglo night-light options and a calorie counter.
Overall, the Times Ironman Run Trainer 2.0 GPS is a dependable watch for runners looking for multi-feedback GPS capability, with the option of being able to swim with it too, even if it can’t track your swim mileage. $225 or $275 with heart-rate monitor
Timex Ironman Sleek 50-Lap
The Timex Ironman Sleek 50-Lap watch is exactly that: sleek. With a slim profile that comes in seven color-combinations, it is the antidote to the boring, black training watch. Sure, you can buy it in black. But you can also buy it in purple, pink, or bright yellow. With no GPS functionality, this watch is strictly for athletes looking for a basic watch. But the petite, comfortable design is anything but basic.
With a 50-lap memory, the watch clocks time, laps and splits with an easy to use push-button on the face of the watch. Plus, it is water-resistant up to 100 meters. So clocking off laps in the pool is as easy as the tap of a button. Though, Timex does not recommend pushing buttons while the watch is under water. The recall setting also saves your best lap and average lap along with total time.
On triathlon race day, hitting the timer and clocking the swim leg, transitions, bike leg, and even run mile splits really is easy as the tap of a button.
Navigating through the watch’s screen is not quite as intuitive as its GPS cousin. After accidentally erasing a few workouts, one wear tester had to refer to the manual a second time before committing the watch’s navigational flow to memory. But once you get used to the watch’s settings, it is easy to use. It just might take an initial learning curve.
An Indiglo night-light proves handy once dusk settles in. Other features include a 24-hour countdown timer, two interval timers, and daily, weekly, weekday or weekend alarms.
The watch is resilient in open water, and comfortable enough to wear all day long while hiking, even in the hottest conditions. The resin strap and watchcase are lightweight and breathable as promised. Overall, it is a great option for any triathlete who wants cost-effective and reliable functionality in a stylish package. $70
Karla Bruning is host of On The Run, New York Road Runners’ show about running. Her work has been seen in Newsweek, RunnersWorld.com, Active.com, ABC-TV in New York and over two dozen other outlets. She has finished six marathons and four triathlons. Follow Karla at RunKarlaRun.com.
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