Suunto 3 Fitness and Spartan Ultra Experiences at the Salzburg Marathon

This was an instructive little run, with Spartan Ultra and Suunto 3 Fitness, with and without special occurrences…

The Run: The Salzburg Marathon.

A beautiful run, surprisingly flat for this city in the mountains, nicely varying in surroundings – but also, as a marathon, run in two rounds.

I did that to myself in 2017, in the Bratislava Marathon. This time, it preferred to take it as reason to “only” do the half marathon.

This is the official course:

Salzburg Marathon Streckenplan

And, I took such a run, so soon after the release of the Suunto 3 Fitness as reason to try that out in such an event – even as it is not made for that.

(On my other wrist I wore a Spartan Ultra, not just for testing it.)

Spartan Ultra

The conclusion about the Suunto Spartan Ultra is easy: It worked well. Often enough, it recorded the track very nicely.

It was not perfect, though. Sometimes, the track shows detours that weren’t really there.

The pace displayed in real time also did not seem quite as stable as that shown by an Ambit – but then, my pace was not the most stable.

All in all, it seemed quite right whenever I looked at it, and thus also usable; it was all the better to check what average pace was shown in the (automatic) laps at every 1 km.

The autolaps came at pretty good times, consistently in similar distance from where the official markings showed another kilometer as having passed.

The final data dump:

  • HR between 126 and 202, on average 185 bpm.
  • Distance 21.42 km
  • Average speed 12.3 km/h or 4’53 min/km
  • Calories 1727 kcal
  • Cadence 80 “rpm”
  • Ascent 23 m, descent 35 m
  • EPOC Peak 316 ml/kg

Suunto 3 Fitness

Things went strangely with the Suunto 3 Fitness, and it would turn out to have been a problem with my smartphone.

During the run, nothing too extraordinary was to be noticed, except that the autolaps came later (and later) than those from the Spartan Ultra.

In the end, the difference was so large that the Spartan Ultra measured the (rather correct) 21.42 km, the Suunto 3 Fitness only 20.26 km.

The (few) pieces of data in overview:

  • HR: 180 bpm average, maximum of 193 bpm
  • Distance: 20.26 km
  • Average speed: 11.6 km/h or 5:09 min/km
  • Calories: 1619 kcal

Later (after the sync between watch and app, which worked flawlessly, in the background) it turned out that no GPS track had been recorded.

The culprit proved to be my smartphone, which I had put into stamina mode – and that apparently prevents the Suunto 3 Fitness from activating and using the GPS of the phone.
In effect, the watch shows that it has connected GPS, everything looks as if it were working – but the Suunto 3 Fitness  really measures distance and pace only via its inbuilt accelerometer.

GPS is not used, be that for speed/pace or for recording the track. (It would only be recorded when and where the phone is being used actively, which would activate the GPS as well – but only then. The result would be an even worse recording than I got here and now.)

Considering this particular problem, the Suunto 3 Fitness didn’t even work so badly. Still, I’d rather remember to keep my smartphone in standard mode next time rather than put it into its energy-saving mode, at least when I want to use connected GPS with the S3F to record my track.

4 responses

  1. have you maxxed up the GPS accuracy on your smartphone.? best to wear the smartphone on the upper arm for a good gps reception.
    my experience of th einternal accelerometer was that it was sometimes fairly accuracte and definately more accurate than the comparable fitbit versa. depends on your arm motion i woud have thought.

    1. Don’t think I can even do that. Anyways, the problem here definitely was what I said it was, that stamina mode disables all background processes, including the GPS that the S3F tries to use

  2. yep i thought the same about gps quality. there was a setting hidden away somewhere on my android device

    1. Man, of course, right… Now that you’re insistent enough, I realize that I’ve told others before that smartphones may have better accuracy than pure GPS devices because they can e.g. also use cell network data. Now I know why I was thinking that: Because I have a “Location mode” setting that can run only GPS, only Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cell networks, or everything…

      Not sure about the difference that makes, but then, that’s what we test stuff for 😉

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