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Fitness trackers to AVOID if you're running the London Marathon this weekend; One tracker underestimated the distance of a full marathon by 11 miles.

Byline: Sophie Curtis

If you're running the London Marathon this weekend, chances are you'll be using a fitness tracker to measure your performance.

These handy high-tech wristbands will help you to track your pace and distance, and in some cases monitor your heart rate to stop you pushing yourself too hard.

But a new report by consumer watchdog Which? has revealed that some trackers can be wildly inaccurate - including those made by supposedly "trusted" brands.

Which? tested 118 fitness trackers and smartwatches for accuracy between May 2016 and February 2019, using a calibrated treadmill to compare the trackers' abilities to log steps taken and distance travelled.

The worst offender, according to Which?, was the Garmin Vivosmart 4, which underestimated the distance of a full marathon by 10.8 miles.

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Which?'s tests found that when the Vivosmart 4 tells you that you've run 26.2 miles, you've actually gone almost 11 miles beyond that.

Marathon runners relying on this model would cross the finish line at Buckingham Palace, carry on running south and continue all the way to South Croydon - a total of around 37 miles.

On the other side of the finish line, a runner using the Huawei Watch 2 Sport could find themselves around seven miles short of the finish line of the marathon.

Which? found this model overestimates the distance covered by 28%, leaving a runner finishing around the 19 mile mark, or near Canary Wharf in this weekend's marathon.

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"Running a marathon is no mean feat, so runners who are putting in the months of training beforehand will want to know their fitness tracker is trustworthy, and not jeopardising their finish times," said Natalie Hitchins, Which? Head of Home Products and Services.

"Our tests have found a number of models from big-name brands that can't be trusted when it comes to measuring distance, so before you buy, make sure you do your research to find a model that you can rely on."

Which? also found that, even within brands, there were considerable variations in tracking running distance.

Apple fared relatively well in the Which? tests, with the smallest difference between its most and least accurate models.

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Of the eight Apple models tested, the most inaccurate was the Apple Watch Series 3 GPS, which overestimated distance covered by 13%, or around 3 miles under the finish line of a marathon.

The best Apple model -- the Apple Watch Series 1 -- only overestimated distance while running by 1%.

Garmin has produced several good models -- the Vivoactive 3, for example, was 100% accurate at tracking running distance in our tests.

However, the Garmin Vivosmart 4 underestimated distance covered by 41.5%, and the Garmin Vivosmart HR overestimated by 30%.

Wearable technology

"The Vivosmart 4 is an all-round smart fitness activity tracker used to monitor wellness, health and fitness for a range of activities," a spokesperson from Garmin said.

"As the Vivosmart 4 does not incorporate GPS, our recommendation for someone who is running long distances such as a marathon, would be to choose a tracking device such as our Forerunner range which is dedicated to running and incorporates GPS."

The least reliable tracker, based on distance while running, from each of the eight biggest brands is as follows:

Garmin Vivosmart 4: -41.5% inaccuracy, (thinks a marathon is 37 miles)

Samsung Gear S2: -38% inaccuracy, (thinks a marathon is 36.2 miles)

Misfit Ray: -32% inaccuracy, (thinks a marathon is 34.6 miles)

Xiaomi Amazfit Bip: -30% inaccuracy, (thinks a marathon is 34 miles)

Fitbit Zip: -18% inaccuracy, (thinks a marathon is 30.9 miles)

Polar A370: -18% inaccuracy, (thinks a marathon is 30.9 miles)

Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS): +13% inaccuracy, (thinks a marathon is 22.8 miles)

Huawei Watch 2 Sport: +28% inaccuracy, (thinks a marathon is 18.9 miles)


Credit: Getty Images Europe

The London Marathon takes place this weekend
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Title Annotation:Technology
Publication:Daily Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 27, 2019
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