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GPS watches (again)

edited June 2018 in Fell (and other) races

[Message from Ben Abdelnoor that he wanted passed on to everyone:]

The use of GPS as a navigational aid in fell races


I am sending this email out on behalf of all those people I have spoken to at races, at club runs, on training runs, reccies, or fellrunners who I've met along the way and have expressed feelings of disappointment and frustration at the way the use of GPS in races is becoming more and more prevalent, corroding the sport of fellrunning.

Almost all of those people I have met agree with my strong belief that GPS as a means to navigate in a fell race has no place in fell races. My main issue is the use of uploaded tracks (breadcrumb trails, maps on screens etc.), which I see as akin to flagging an entire course.

Please take a moment to read this email and take action. If we don't, those voices on the fellrunners facebook page will sway the thinking of the FRA Committee! It's unbelievable, but it seems they think that most people want GPS to be allowed!

The FRA committee will not currently support my proposal for a blanket ban on using GPS to navigate in races. They believe that it should be up to a race organiser to decide whether or not to ban GPS as a navigational aid. I believe it is irresponsible of them to allow people who may have no idea how to use a map and compass to enter a race and simply use GPS. Why should they place another responsibility onto race organisers, deciding whether or not to implement a rule and proof that they are policing it? Surely a very simple blanket rule - no GPS to navigate - would solve the problem. I don't see how a committee can decide to irrevocably change a sport for the worse. It's disappointing that they don't understand fell running involves two things: running in the fells, and the skills in which to navigate on those fells.

Stop for a moment and consider the likes of Langdale Horseshoe, Ennerdale Horseshoe, or British and English Championship races being raced by people who have downloaded a file onto their watch, without a clue how to use a map and compass!

Please can I ask you to send one email to all of the following people to express your concern and disappointment that the FRA aren't going to ban the use of GPS as a navigational aid. It'll take 5 minutes, and might just save our sport:

Nick Harris (chair@fellrunner.org.uk) the FRA Chairman, seems to believe that there is a large proportion of fell runners who wish to use GPS; I do not believe this is the case. 99% of people I speak to are in support of my proposal. I need those people to speak up!

If you could please write a couple of lines or a paragraph - a 'letter to the editor' - and email it to David McCabe (editor@fellrunner.org.uk) the Fellrunner magazine editor, that'd be great. Please email him ASAP as the deadline is tight to publication.

Please also cc in Andy Watts (secretary@fellrunner.org.uk) the FRA Secretary, and our FRA membership representatives Ian WInterburn (everythingoutdoor@btinternet.com), Helen Berry (helencberry@aol.com) and Nick Hewitt (n.hewitt@lancaster.ac.uk).

If all this is too much for you, just email me your thoughts and I'll put them in a letter to the editor etc.

I am grateful to those many people who I have personally spoken to and have given me their support, including: Ian Holmes, Rhys Findlay-Robinson, Rob Jebb, Sharon Taylor, Carl Bell, Jen Mattison, Colin Dulson (organiser of the Ennerdale Horseshoe), Richard Eastman (organiser of the Wasdale Horseshoe), Scoffer (organiser of the Borrowdale fell race), Adam Perry, Wendy Dodds, Graham Breeze (previous FRA Chairman), James Goffe (organiser of the Duddon fell race), Joss Naylor, every single Ambleside AC race organiser (ten of us!), Matt Bland (Pete Bland Sports), Paul Cornforth (Kong Adventure)...

We have a voice, but unless we use it, we'll be doing flagged routes around Fairfield in 2019...

Ben Abdelnoor

P.S. Please read this link to answer, hopefully, and questions you may have: http://www.amblesideac.org.uk/races/gps-use-in-our-races/

"All that is necessary for GPS to prevail is for good men to do nothing."


  • I think, possibly all, BCR race organisers have written directly to support this proposal.
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