Playtesting needed for 2024 FLRC Challenge courses

@Challengers I’ve finished the Web pages (except for start/finish sign photos, which I can’t take until I install them the week before the Challenge opens) and RunGo directions for all of the 2024 FLRC Challenge courses, but I need your help. As many of you know, I have a knee injury that prevents me from even hiking the courses to test the RunGo directions. Normally, I’d go over at least the trail courses while listening to RunGo and adjust the directions based on in-person observations, but I just can’t do that this year.

So, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to playtest the instructions. These runs will not count for the Challenge because registration isn’t open, but they’ll give you a preview of this year’s courses. You can see the full list of courses here, with Google Maps pins and links to RunGo directions—the courses will also come up when you search in RunGo.

Here’s how to playtest a course:

  • Start both RunGo and your GPS watch (since you might need to pause the watch if you wander at all) at the point where the sign should be. Obviously, the course signs aren’t up yet, but look closely at the RunGo starting point on the map to get as close as possible.

  • Run the course, listening closely to the RunGo directions. Whenever you hear a direction, make sure it seems correct and comes at a reasonable time. If not:

    • On your phone, start a new note document and record the distance you’re at, what the problem is, and what change you recommend I make.
    • If it would help, take a photo of the intersection to illustrate your recommendation.
  • Continue to run the course, listening for and making notes on anything that seems off. In particular, if there’s a turn that doesn’t have a direction, be sure to give me the distance into the course, the direction, and a photo.

  • If you get off course such that your distance measurements are no longer accurate, you might be able to subtract the detour distances (say you went .2 miles too far before turning around and rejoining the course, you’d subtract .4 miles from all the distances you report).

When you’re done, please post your corrections in this topic.


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@adamengst, I play-tested FH Fox yesterday, and it went well – people are going to love this course!

I just had a few suggestions:

  • 1.46 miles: it says “Turn slight right” — maybe clarify to “Before you hit the road, turn slight right onto the grassy path.”

  • 1.51 miles: it says “Turn sharp right - onto the Cornell farm road” — might clarify that it’s a dirt road.

  • 1.64 miles: it says “Turn left - back on to the trail” — for me, the turn came about 112 meters before the cue. Could also clarify this by saying “where the road bends to the right, turn left onto the orange-blazed trail.”

  • 1.93 miles: instead of “Freese Trails” could say “orange-blazed Cayuga Trail” (there’s a marker at the start of the trail identifying it as the Cayuga Trail, but if most people know this as the Freese Trails, could just add the orange-blazed part).

  • At about 2.59 miles, there is a fork in the trail and both paths are helpfully orange-blazed. Could add a cue here: “At the fork, stay left to continue alongside the creek” (there’s also a sign here that points left toward the Arboretum, so could instead say, “At the fork, stay left toward the Arboretum.”) Because I got a little off course, I’m not sure exactly where this cue should be, sorry.

  • 3.01 miles: it says “Turn slight right - to stay on the Cayuga Trail through the Cornell Botanic Gardens fields.” — could expand on this: “Go up the steps, then turn right to stay on the Cayuga Trail through the Cornell Botanic Gardens fields.” Aside from the steps issue, once you get to the top, there’s an alluring looking paved path that just leads out to the road. Not sure if there’s a way to tell people to stay to the right and ignore the paved path.

  • 3.47 miles: it says “Turn left onto Arboretum Road - at the stop sign.” — maybe remove the stop sign, because it’s pointed in the other direction (there’s no stop sign from our side).

  • 3.78 miles: no donkeys yesterday, sadly

  • 4.46 miles: Hah! I was so ready to turn onto Stevenson. That was funny.

Oh, this is great, thanks so much! I need to hit some deadlines this weekend, but I’ll get these edits in soon.

I wish I lived closer to help with this, but if I am up that way for a run I will try to test out a course.

One thing I am wondering about is if there is someone who is really good at the technical aspects of using the Run/Go app and in the technical settings needed on Android and Apple phones to allow Run/Go to work best that could write a short guide to what settings to enable on our phones and app?

Last year trying to follow the routes using the Run/Go app proved to be a challenge for myself and anyone I ran the courses with. Maybe if we had the ideal settings that aspect would be more enjoyable. We often had to stop and get out the maps to consult them instead of being able to rely on the verbal instructions.

Thank you

Good suggestion, Kyle, and I’ll look into that after Skunk Cabbage is done. I can describe the iPhone and Apple Watch versions, and hopefully someone with an Android phone can share what’s different there.

My experience is that the tricks to using RunGo successfully are:

  • Preview the course in RunGo at home so you know what direction the instructions assume when there are loops. You can even follow the course virtually now to hear the audio prompts.

  • Always load the route at home before leaving in case connectivity is weak. That’s especially true if you’re using the Apple Watch version, which you want to make sure has synced from the iPhone before you leave.

  • Make sure to start the course right at the sign so you’re getting the correct directions right away.

  • Run the course in the exact way the instructions assume—going around a loop in the other direction is fine for Challenge rules, but RunGo is single-minded about the “correct” way to run.

  • Pay close attention to all instructions. It’s easy to be running with people and not hear directions correctly or at all, and the more off-course you get, the harder it is to get back on.

Other tips? At this point, I’m sure some of you have used RunGo a lot more than I have.

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Thanks. I think myself and other members will find that helpful

I’ve found RunGo works pretty well overall, especially for the road courses. It’s main problem is that the GPS that comes with IOS or Android isn’t 100% accurate, but close to it. (And I wouldn’t expect it to be 100%.) With RunGo the GPS tends to lag behind your current location by anywhere from 5-20 seconds. Not a big deal, except when the prompt tells you to turn and you’ve already run past the turn. Then you need to stop and figure it out. It gets more confusing when there are multiple turns or intersections close together. I’ve heard of others having the same minor issue.

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@adamengst Lakefront Loop is the exact same as last year, right?

Yep, the Lakefront Loops 5K is exactly the same. Good thing it’s a nice course!

Diana and I traversed Treman Trailpop this afternoon and we have some suggestions. But I am tired so I will post those tomorrow. :melting_face:

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I ran Lindsay-Parsons today with RunGo. The existing directions (along with trail markings) are clear enough that I never had to stop to consult the map or double-back. I made some minor notes, but most of them are about the timing of certain directions and as Pete pointed out GPS can lag sometimes.

  • 0.36 miles: “Turn left onto Red Trail” direction came about 50 yards late.

  • 1.33 miles: When turning left onto the orange trail: the first blaze I saw was blue (maybe an old blaze?), which was a bit confusing. It’s on the very right of this picture. However, the trail is pretty obvious and you can see an orange blaze farther down the trail (also in the picture but harder to see).

  • 1.94 miles: “Turn left onto the Orange Trail” was about 100 yards late.

  • 2.30 miles: “Turn right onto the Orange Trail” was about 50 yards late.

  • ~3.0 miles: RunGo told me to turn (or continue straight? I can’t remember) in 100 yards, as usual, but never actually told me about the turn when I took it. At the moment I took the turn RunGo announced that I had run 3 miles. Does RunGo override directions with mile splits?

  • 3.2 miles: At this point the course continues straight on Orange but it is possible to turn left on Purple. It might be worth adding an instruction to continue straight.

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Mel and I ran the Hammond Hill Hoctathon this morning. Nice to run some new HH trails and the B3 loop at the end was our favorite. Here are our notes on the directions:

  • 0.66 mi - “Turn left - off the road and through the gate” - Took us a while to find this turn, it is not clear from Hammond Hill Road and there’s a big berm you’d have to cross and a sign that says “Unauthorized trail - do not use.” Also there wasn’t a gate that we could see at this point. I know there’s a yellow gate further up HH Road before B1, so we went that way and met up with B1 and the Winter Trail from there, but I think that was not the intended route?

  • 2.17 - on Y8 - the instructions say “Turn left” three times. The last time was closest to the actual turn.

  • We noticed some sneaky little sticks or roots sticking up out of the trail on Y8, but hidden under leaves. I think it was from cutting down shrubs or smaller trees to make this trail. This stretch was nice but seemed easy to trip. Just something we noticed.

  • The “little loop” on Y8 was a bit unclear. We just seemed to go straight rather than turn to avoid this “little loop” (the trail only seemed to go one direction). On my Strava track and during RunGo it looked like we were veering off the route a little bit, though we always stayed on Y8.

  • 4.23 - Head straight onto R4 - this section was slightly confusing because there were both R4 and R5 signs on the same little bit of trail.

  • 5.52 - “Turn slight left onto Y1” - this was more like “Go straight onto Y1” when we heard it.

  • 6.63 - “Head straight onto Y1” - This was more like “Turn slight left onto Y1” (and don’t go straight down the trail toward the trees that are painted with yellow spots).

  • 7.23 - “Turn right onto Y8” - there’s a little stool here, nice landmark for making that right turn.

I took a couple pics but need to resize them to post them here, will try to do that!

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I ran the Lindsay Parsons one this morning and had the same issue with GPS lag. (Strange that it didn’t happen at all on the HHH course yesterday.) I made some notes in the directions as well.

RunGo does give you the option of turning off the mile marker audio cues (ie “Distance two miles”) and the option to adjust the pre-turn cues. For example, to have it alert you of a turn in 300 feet instead of 150.

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@adamengst I ran the Hammond and Lindsay Parsons ones and took some notes for suggested edits. Ok for me to edit those in the app since I still have admin access? Or would you rather I post it here?

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Great stuff, everyone!

@melissawallace, you may be right. @esambo and @nkleinrock had given me advice on that turn early on, but I may have misunderstood, and I haven’t seen it since the DEC threw up their huge berms. I’ve made this change now (but no others from your list yet).

@Petorius, if you want to edit directly, that would be a help—thank you! Please just make sure to include all the suggestions above too, so I know everything has been taken into account. I’ll go over things again afterward.

One tip that I just figured out. RunGo is very twitchy if you have to move a line, which I had to do to fix the start of the Hoctathon. The technique that worked once but not reliably was:

  • Edit the route
  • Click the Add Points button
  • Choose Mid-point
  • Click on the route line where you want to add a point
  • Click the Select button
  • Drag the mid-point to reflow the route
  • If it doesn’t work, immediately click the Undo button
  • Make sure the course distance didn’t change much—sometimes it likes to move the endpoint so the course gets way longer
  • If all else fails, just close the window without saving

On the plus side, I discovered that RunGo has very nice embedding, which I’ll use to replace my static screenshot maps for each course.

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@Petorius, are you using RunGo on an iPhone? As far as I can tell the Android version doesn’t give the option of changing how far in advance the turn cues happen. It’s always 100 yards.

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I use RunGo with my Apple Watch, which allows me to get directions without carrying a phone. It took about two years to sync up My technical awareness and running style with RunGo and it was worth the effort. It is so fantastic to just run in the woods without worrying about stopping to scrutinize maps and trail signs. My tip is to run at steadily with no quick acceleration or suddenly stopping to walk. If I start going slower or start going faster, RunGo can’t always recalibrate to my speed quickly enough to give the correct directions at the correct time. That means especially for trail running in areas where I’m not familiar I may run the course the first time 30 seconds or a minute per mile slower than I would normally so that RunGo can stay in sync with me while I use the extra time to look around for what RunGo is talking about.

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@adamengst Thanks, Adam. Hopefully that gate can be opened for Thom B, it’s pretty tight squeezing around it to get to B1 right now.

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Definitely something for @Mr_Hector to check with the DEC.

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For those of us who are a little more technically inclined and prefer to not run with a phone, could GPX courses also be provided? GPX export on RunGo is a “premium” feature.