Most months, a local running store (Pulse Running) holds a FKT course. (FKT = Fastest (or Funnest) Known Time) They reward the fasted runners (boy and girl) and then do a drawing for everyone else. This is the first time I tried to run the course in the month we were supposed to.
They always offer a Garmin GPS of the course you are supposed to run. Me, not knowing the foot hills at all, need a lot of help staying on the correct course. After a little research, I figured out how to upload a course to my Garmin 405 watch and how to use it to figure out where I am supposed to run. I was bound and determined to follow the course this time (I have tried others but still get lost). Now I have never been to this trail before so my first challenge was to find the trailhead. Fortunately, Pulse Running had some good directions. When I arrived, there was only one car in the parking lot. I didn't realize that there was someone it in until I was ready to start.
I took a quick look at the map at the trailhead and realized that this route just followed the Polecat trail. This information would be very valuable later. I started out and the arrow on my Garmin was pointing the right way. When I reached the second branch however, the arrow on the Garmin was pointing back the way I came. However, the Polecat trail went on straight (the trail markers were most helpful), and the side trail cut back to teh right. I was confused here. Believing I should "Trust the Garmin", I turned right and headed up the side trail. When I got about 30 yards however, my Garmin beeped at me and told me that I had "lost the course." I stopped and looked and it was pointing back teh way I came. So I turned around and after three steps, it beeped again and said "course found" and pointed me back to the parking lot. I tested this three step zone a couple of times and finally decided to ignore the Garmin and follow the signs.
As I headed back to Polecat trail, I realized that Polecat when straight on for about 20 yards and then cut back up the side of the opposite hill. So I think my Garmin was trying to tell me I needed to go up that hill, but it was not very clear and gave me bad information at the intersection.
Out of 6 intersections, my Garmin pointed me the wrong way 50% of the time. Not really helpful in finding the right trail. It was good at telling me when I was way off course, so I guess that is something.
The Polecat trail was really nice. I had the trail to myself until I reached 1/2 way. Oh and it was here that my garmin told me that the "virtual partner" had just finished the course. This is a feature I need to turn off. At this point I started seeing a good stream of runners and bikers.
Overall, it was a lot of fun exploring this trail. I will say that I am less than impressed with my new Garmin 405. Not only was it less than helpful on navigating the course, but at the start of the run, it had trouble figuring out where I was. I started and stopped in the same place, but my Garmin had me starting out in the middle of nowhere. I think for courses, that I need to let the Garmin sit for a minute before starting my run so it can get a good GPS fix.