Rotherham Harriers and Athletics Club

Trail Running Section

Rowbotham's Round Rotherham
through the South Yorkshire Forest
(The area designated as The South Yorkshire Forest is mainly rural land rather than a vast area of woodland)

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This is the Page for Electronic Navigation

The RRR route on a SatNav - supporter's and relay team support cars.

Electronic navigation for competitors

Technology is bringing rapid change to navigation techniques. Classic following a route on a map is being superseded by following a route on an electronic device, essentially a GPS-enabled device (forgive the handful of a description). A plethora of devices are available, some suitable, others less so.  Suitable devices will:

  1.  display a map, at least showing roads tracks, paths, rivers, canals, railways
  2. display the route, as downloaded from this website and uploadable to the unit
  3. (preferably) give an alarm at waypoints, often corresponding to turns off the straight-ahead
  4. have a battery that will last for the duration of the outing, or alternatively
    have replaceable batteries or provision for an external power supply (and that supply)
  5. waterproof, or protectable from (the unlikely) rain/monsoon that may occur on the day

Suitable devices:

  1. Trail-type GPS units with a map, e.g. Garmin GPSMAP CSx family with appropriate map, Memory-Map device (e.g. Adventurer 3500)
    These units will probably not provide alarms, but are durable (for rain) and
    have replaceable batteries or potential external power supply.
  2. SmartPhone or (small) Tablet, with appropriate app, as described later. Either carry spare batteries or an external power supply.  You will need protection from bad weather, which may impair touch-screen operation.  Less accurate or sensitive (especially under trees) than a specific GPS device.
  3. Sat-Nav device with uploaded software (a SatNav is basically a small tablet computer, often running Windows CE!). 
    Unfortunately, most SatNav devices are locked down, preventing installation of alternative software

Unsuitable devices:

  1. Hand-held GPS units that don't display a map.  You can upload the route, but it will be difficult to follow.
    You may see there is a turn, but which path to take at a complex junction?
  2. Wrist-worn GPS-enabled training companions, e.g. Garmin Forerunner series. 
    Very robust, but for most models you can't recharge or complement the internal battery,
    lower spec models do not display a route, higher spec model can show a breadcrumb route (uploaded)
    and track (recorded on the day) but not a meaningful map.

Also, it is essential to try out whichever system you plan to use before the event. You need to be familiar with your device, the mapping software/app and using it to follow a route.  Practice setting and navigating round a test route first.  Don't expect it to work from the box on the day!  Test battery life, get adequate reserve power and leads if necessary.  If your phone battery goes, you will lose your navigation aid and won't be able to phone for assistance!  Will the system work in the wet?  It has been known to rain for the RRR!

 

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Route on a SmartPhone or Tablet

Grid references, GPS data for conventional trail-type GPS units

Comparison of Trail and SatNav systems


Trail GPS units (mainly for competitors)

The basic requirements are for a GPS unit with a suitable display, that can be connected to a computer to upload the route information (from this website), with suitable software for on computer (which may come with the GPS unit). The GPS unit needs to have an adequate battery life, if you are going to be out for (say) 10 hours, or have replaceable batteries.

What you consider a suitable display is largely a matter of preference.

A basic GPS unit would be uploaded with a route, and would display straight lines between waypoints (loaded from the website). The track that you actually follow would display as a ‘breadcrumb’ track, with (typically) a solid triangle at your present position. So you would be able to see if you need to turn, at a waypoint, but between the waypoints you may be quite a way from the straight line, for example if there are no turnings e.g. the path is not straight but has a long curve. I have used a Garmin GPS12 successfully on this type of route, but only as a back-up. The Garmin Forerunner watches have a similar type of display, but to be honest too small to follow (assuming you have one that can be connected to the computer to upload the route).  However, their big disadvantage is battery life or lack of it. 13 hours for old models, boostable (see later) but 6 or 7 for newer ones, and need to be recharged on a cradle.

The unit I generally use is a Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx, with the GB topographic map, showing roads, paths, streams, railways and contours. If you are unsure of your position, and where to turn (for example) the map display provides confidence. Note that this map does not display many man-made features, (buildings, etc).  Ideal for walking the Scottish mountains, and urban streets, but maybe not so good for the countryside.  The display shows a blue breadcrumb for the track followed , with a solid triangle showing current location. I use rechargeable batteries, and may need to change them once in the event. The GPSMAP with GB Topo map can give visual turn-by-turn navigation instructions, as with a SatNav, albeit silent, when you are on the road.

The new Garmin GPSMAP 62CSx, with the GB Discovery map (based on full OS mapping) is a step forwards,  but is not cheap.

The Memory-Map Explorer 3500 would behave similarly.  You need to connect the unit to a computer to install the appropriate overlay (to display the route), import as an overlay. 

 GPS routes, tracks and waypoints in various formats for Garmin, Magellan, Memory-Map and other GPS brands using inter alia GPS Utility  updated for 2012

To clear your GPS of Round Rotherham waypoints, delete waypoints with the selected symbols of Flag (possibly blue, or golf course).

If you require a different GPS data format, contact me, Henry Marston (include a Subject and Body text - unexplained attachments may be treated as spam),  and I will try to generate it for you (using GPSU, GPS Babel, etc).


GPS route on a SmartPhone or Tablet, for Competitors

Screenshots on an HTC Android phone using the MyTrails app, with FREE map - take your pick. 
Alternatively invest £12 per year, (£1.50 per month) for 1:25k and 1:50k OS maps
Special Offer of free online OS map from MyTrails! (More info to come!)
Plus a photo of the Memory-Map screen -

a) Microsoft Terrain b) Microsoft Map c)  OpenStreetMap
d) 4UMaps e) Google Map f) Google Terrain
g) OpenCycleMap h) OpenHikingMap i) Photo of Memory-Map screen showing OS map*

 *Reproduced from Memory-Map 1:50000 scale by permission of Ordnance Survey® on behalf of The Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. ©Crown copyright 2000 All rights reserved. Licence number 100047659.

For the MyTrails displays here, the track (where I went last year) is light coloured because of the low altitude near the river; it is red or black at higher elevations.  The colour can be set to a single selected colour (as on the RRR home page

This section is being developed - email enquiries and I will try to help.

The following description is probably only meaningful if you have a SmartPhone or Tablet!  It is based on an Android phone (HTC Desire C and Sony Xperia), but no doubt similar for other Android models. A tablet should also work, but I would not want to carry one with a large screen!  Similar principles should apply for other operating systems (Apple OS or Windows phone), but they need a different app.   For the iPhone and iPad a suggested app is MotionX GPS: <http://gps.motionx.com/iphone/>. As I do not have an Apple device, I can't offer further advice, but reading the following may give you some ideas.

You will probably need to have additional memory in your phone (I have inserted a 32 Gb microSDHC card) and it simplifies matters if you install Dropbox to facilitate file transfer between your phone and PC.  Answer some simple questions and get 18 Gb in The Cloud for free! 

Three downloads are required
a) a suitable app
I have tried three apps.  My Tracks (linked to Google Maps) is easy to use for recording runs, but it is not easy to upload a route.  It was also too responsive to inadvertent screen pressings.  On enquiring about loading a route to RunKeeper, I was advised to keep to MyTrails!  My Tracks and RunKeeper are more concerned with sharing your experience than following a route, and do not have all the features described here.  MyTrails is an Android app produced by FrogSparks, downloadable from the Play Store.  Information here is summarised from the MyTrails manual, which can be accessed from the
FrogSparks website.  The free version is probably adequate if you are downloading maps as you go; the critical benefits of the paid-for version (around £2) is that you can create a larger downloaded map (see next item) and you can get a warning when you reach a waypoint on the route, i.e. a warning that you need to look at the phone to check where to go next.
Remember, I am describing MyTrails for Android, not My Tracks or Trails/MyTrail for the iphone. They are quite different!  I have seen a report of Motionx for iphone/ipad being used successfully without additional maps beyond the Apple map.

b) maps. 
MyTrails offers many different maps, many free, but you can subscribe to the OS 25k and 50k maps for a monthly fee.  The free map I prefer for the RRR is OpenStreetMap, which shows many footpaths.  Mapquest is very similar, with 4UMaps a good alternative.  See examples above, the Google versions being done later, different track file.  For hill-walking or fell races, I would want a Topo map, with contours, e.g. OpenHikingMap (Europe), more visible footpaths.  Consider: The map may not be easy to read if it is sunny (as has often happened!) so photographic depiction of terrain (as in Microsoft Map) would not be easy to follow.  Brighter screens use up the battery more quickly!  The railway is not easy to see on Microsoft Terrain or Google Map, and omitted from Google Terrain - not ideal as they can be useful navigation aids.  You can invest £12 per year, (£1.50 per month) for 1:25k and 1:50k OS maps, but I plan to try the free maps first. 

These can be large files, which can be downloaded from the Web in advance to create an off-line map rather than 'on the fly'.  You can let your phone download the map as you go, relying on a good network connection (and using valuable data megabytes!), or download the appropriate map in advance by wifi. For me, with a limited monthly data download limit, I prefer to create an offline map.  Before doing so, first download the overlay of the track and route - you can then easily define the bits of map you want (a total of 9244 map tiles for the RRR, around 72 Mbytes for the OpenStreetMap, 85 Mbytes for the OpenHikingMap).

c) the route for this event (right click on the link and 'save link as..' so that you can save the file)
F
or MyTrails, the .gpx version is required.  This has the track (where I actually went last time, adjusted as necessary for changes), waypoints (decision points, i.e. the turns) that trigger a message as you reach the turn and route (straight line between waypoints).  Other versions of the route file are available, see GPS routes, tracks and waypoints You are strongly recommended to use one of these as (a) they are corrected for changes for the new year and (b) are derived from a Garmin GPS device which is more accurate than a Smartphone, especially under trees.  

Procedure:

Install MyTrails (free) and ideally add MyTrails Pro License from the Play Store.  More information, including manual, on FrogSparks website.

In PlayStore, search for 'MyTrails' (no space)

Download the route file (right click, Save As , to you PC or Dropbox).  This is updated if necessary right up to race day, depending on late changes forced upon us by (e.g.) path closures.  Initially, the last year's file is provided, and is updated as appropriate.  See the Changes page where file updates are reported (@ symbol is added when change is incorporated into GPS files).  It is recommended to update the route file in the week before the event. 
Typically, download the route file to a PC, copy it to your dropbox and when transferred to your phone.  Open MyTrails, open the menu (3 dots one above the other, top right), select Manage tracks, select Load, find the appropriate route file, and load it.

To create an off-line map, select Map Manager from the menu.  Click Create Offline.  Click below Map Source, select the map you want (e.g. OpenStreetMap in place of Microsoft Terrain), edit name (e.g. RRR Offline).  Click Next.  The map to be created offline will be displayed.   Highlight 'Track'.  Click Select, and find rrr_gps_map_gpx.gpx  Click the name, and the display will go back to show the map to be created offline, to include the full route.  Now select Start.  It will take some time to download the map.  Once done, select Map Manager again, make sure RRR Offline is selected to be Shown, others Hidden. 

I have zipped my copy of the OpenStreetMap for the RRR; save the file on your computer, unzip it and copy the folder structure to the SD card on your phone, to the folder MyTrails/offline.  (I zipped the files to retain the folder structure).  You then have to find the map under Settings - Map Manager to activate it.  It is a very big file (71 Mbytes) so it may well be easier and quicker to create your own offline map!

In Preferences, sub-menu Behavior, you may want to set GPS Orientation (direction of travel up screen, not North), Disk Cache Very Large, and under Waypoints Proximity Location (e.g. Vibrate and speak or Vibrate and ring).  Under Other, Keep screen on (dim) will give quick restart; Let phone sleep will save battery power, but then the Proximity Alert won't work.  To prevent accidental input on touch screen, set Screen lock (unlock with 'volume up' key).  If MyTrails is not on top, ringtone volume slider may display; press bottom left Back button.   Don't set Optimize battery or you will lose the proximity alert. (American mis-spellings taken from app!)

To start recording your track, click the left-hand of the group of 3 buttons at the top, like an electrical lead or snake.  Click Clear to remove records of previous tracks, then (on the start line) click Resume.  At the Finish, click on Pause (in place of Resume), and Save or Save then clear.  In Track Manager, press and hold a track name to get a sub-menu including upload track, e.g. to dropbox for transfer to your PC for Google Earth, etc.   

Use the + or - buttons to zoom in or out, or use 2-finger swipe. A short swipe will briefly remove the track so that you can see the map detail behind the track.  The colour of the track is altitude related, scale along top of display. Black and Red at the top of the hills, green and yellow on low ground.  The other button (circle with sat receiver) centres the current location in the display.

                                   

a) Operational menu, click middle icon at top ('snake')
Clear to reset, Save then clear if you want the previous outing saved.  Resume to start (Pause to finish).
 b) Set-up menu, from right icon at top (3 dots)      c)  Track Manager sub-menu - select the track to display
d) Map Manager sub-menu, to create and later select for display  e) Create offline sub-sub-menu - select map type at top, edit name, click Next f) Click Track (instead of Map), then find RRR Track.  Map to be created is based on track

Helpful  Hints:
To see the map behind the track, slightly adjust the zoom (pinching the screen with 2 fingers), the overlay will redraw, but you have an opportunity to see the underlying map

You can set up several alternative maps to be available (shown rather than hidden).  These are listed under the map icon (between snake and menu icons).  The nifty way to swap maps is a 'lateral 3 finger swipe' across the screen. 

During daylight hours, wear sunglasses so that your eyes are able to adapt to the phone's display.   When you want to look at the screen, hold the screen in shadow and remove your glasses.  The back-light can't compete with the sun!  (not a problem with certain handheld GPS units like a Garmin GPSMAP)

WARNING: You need to provide a waterproof cover for your phone, e.g. an AquaPac.  I was caught out by my phone failing (and the warranty claim rejected) for water ingress, even though I have no recollection of the phone getting wet.  Possibly condensation, or being out when damp rather than wet, but expensive even with mobile phone insurance.  Generally phones (standard or SmartPhone) are not waterproof whereas handheld GPS units, intended for outdoor use, are usually waterproof. 

Alternative or back-up power supply

For the MemoryMap Adventurer, connect it to your PC and upload RoundRotherhamRoute.mmo to the User Data folder on the device (click on link and Save File As.../Save Link As...)

After disconnecting and restarting, on the Maps page, click the Tools icon, Overlay, Open and select RoundRotherhamRoute.mmo.  Using the Overlay menu you can Show or Hide All, Track, Route, Waypoints, etc.  Set an alarm for approaching a waypoint (set, e.g., to 50 m)

The area is still under development, and will be expanded upon before the event. Contact me,  Henry Marston, if you have problems with the software or maps; I may be able to help.

Comparison of Trail and SatNav systems
Feature Trail GPS (e.g. Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx) SmartPhone
Screen size 32x56 mm portrait, Track up (track direction to top, optional) 95x54 mm rotatable, North up (North to top, fixed)
Map GB Topo map (shows roads, paths, water, rail, contours) e.g. Memory map using OS 1:25000 maps
Commands Press buttons Touch screen (need to avoid unintentional touching)
Screen in sun Screen clearly visible in sun (sun illuminates screen) Backlit, sun obscures display (shade needed)
Waterproofness High level of water resistance Poor (MM Adventurer is waterproof)
Battery NiMH or Alkaline batteries, life ~16 hr; can replace on run if necessary Internal Li battery, life c. 1 hour.  Needs external power supply via USB connector
(8 hr for MM Adventurer)
Memory Micro SD/SDHC cards to 4 Gb SD/SDHC card (32Gb tested)
GPS accuracy High, sensitive (device designed with reception as a priority) Less sensitive, e.g. lose signal under trees, less accurate giving zigzag track

The new Garmin GPSMAP 62Sx can be loaded with an OS 'Discovery' map - more details later

Alternative or back-up power supply

No Smartphone I know of has the battery power to operate with display and GPS active for the duration of the RRR.  You need back-up for power. 

One option is to carry spare batteries for your phone. 
a) A replacement battery (possibly OEM, i.e. non-branded) costs £10 to £30, depending on phone
b)
Batteries are quite phone specific; if you change phone, any old batteries will probably become obsolete.

It's worth carrying one spare (charged) battery for your phone, in case of emergency, but a universal external high capacity battery pack is a probably a better option

The PortaPow USB Battery Pack 3400 mAh, has been available as a Buy-it-now item on ebay at £22.50
or see http://www.portablepowersupplies.co.uk/usbliionbatterypack.htm
Alternatives:  Kensington battery pack (1800mAh) or the Power Monkey (2200mAh).

I bought the Premium PortaPow USB Battery Pack 5000 mAh, shown attached to an alternative device (on the left), for extra capacity, but around £40.   The picture shows that you can connect to the mains and recharge a device and Portapow batteries at the same time.   The PortaPow has 3 or 6 times the capacity of a phone's battery, so the combination should be sufficient for the RRR, especially if you have the display active when required rather than keeping it on all the time, e.g. turn on display once you are no longer in a large group.

SmartPhone connected to PortaPow and power lead - usually detached

Further information and links to follow - if you are interested contact me, Henry Marston  

Comparison of accuracy of GPS devices

Whilst doing the Rotherham parkrun on 27 April, I wore a Garmin Forerunner 110 and carried an HTC Desire C.  Then recorded tracks are depicted on the chart below

Comments: The run comprises 3 complete laps (clockwise from the western corner) and finishing as with a part lap diverting SE from the circuit.

The blue-green track was generated by the HTC;  the Forerunner laps were successively recorded as magenta, blue, red and yellow.

Most of the route was under deciduous tree cover, with emerging (small) leaves, on 27 April.  Some sections are open (no tree cover) , notably the south-most part , from the finish branch towards the northern corner, and from the N corner half way to the E corner.

The forerunner track is much more consistent than the HTC phone track, especially around the N corner and towards the E corner, again near the W corner.

This is expected; a phone manufacturer expends more research effort on making the phone more sensitive to weak phone signals than refining the GPS receiver.  In contrast, that is Garmin's raison d'être.

Accordingly, all tracks and waypoints on this website are derived from a primary GPS device rather than a smartphone.  However, a smartphone will usually be adequate for following the route, but do be aware of the limitations, especially under trees or in a steep-sided valley.

 

Keep an eye on this Navigation pages for more information.   Obviously, the final  GPS route files can only be supplied close to the day when the precise route has been finalised. As always, there are some uncertainties that need resolution.

SatNav route for supporters / relay team members

Supporters with a SatNav  If you are driving round as a supporter, or fellow relay team member, the Route description (Supporter's cars) has a description of the optimum route (which will not always be chosen by a SatNav) with postcodes for the event centre and all checkpoints.  In summary:

Event Centre: S63 7EW  Unnamed Road
Grange: S61 2RB  Unnamed Road (off Droppingwell Road)
Treeton: S60 5PU Washfield Crescent (No 9)
Harthill: S26 7YB  Pryor Mede (opposite Recreation Grounds)
Woodsetts: S81 8AT  Gildingwells Road (No 15)
Firbeck: S81 8LH Salt Hill (track on right at corner)
Maltby: S66 8JB Church Close (No 1)
Old Denaby: DN12 4LF Denaby Lane (No 4)

 

Last update 13 October, 2016 by Henry Marston

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