Why I stuck with Garmin after trying a Coros Apex

I've been running ultramarathons since 2016 with a Garmin Forerunner 235. I got the watch in 2015 after my Forerunner 610 could no longer hold a charge. The watch took me thousands of miles, 13 ultramarathons, 10 marathons, and helped me keep precise pace as an official pacer for 4 half marathons and 1 full marathon.

This spring, my watch started to show signs of its age. I was getting "low battery" warnings after only an hour or two of GPS use coming off a full charge. I could have breathed some new life into it by replacing the battery, but as I explore running longer ultramarathons, I'll need a watch that has the ability to track an activity for 15-20 hours at least.

I learned about Coros from Oliver, a runner formerly in Rochester who moved to Atlanta several years ago. In September 2021 we both ran the Georgia Jewel Ultra. I did the 37 mile distance and he crushed his first 100 miler using his new Coros watch.

Coros watches are most popular with ultramarathon runners. They tout their long battery life, advanced metrics, and more sensors on lower-price-point devices. So for my birthday this June I decided to treat myself to a brand new Coros Apex.

Like any new tech toy, it was fun to unbox and set up. Right away I noticed a few differences from my Garmin Forerunner:

  • Dial instead of up/down arrows. This seemed especially weird as someone who wears a watch on my right wrist, since the dial was not centered in the watch body and optimized for left-wrist wearing.
  • Can't customize screens from the watch itself - must use the app.
  • Can't install new/custom watch faces.

I attributed these concerns to the price you pay when switching technology platforms. However, after spending a couple days with the watch, I realized there were some more subtle but more critical limitations to the Coros Apex:

  • No "vibrate" alarm setting. I use this whenever I'm getting up earlier than my spouse.
  • No "discard activity" option. I'll sometimes start an activity on a boat or train to gauge how fast I'm going and want to discard the activity.
  • No music control. I regularly use my watch to play/pause a podcast playing from a bluetooth speaker.
  • No open-ended intervals.

During my online search for recommendations on how to sidestep these issues, I realized that only a week and a half earlier (June 1, 2022) Garmin had released their new Forerunner watch, the Forerunner 255. It sported all of the features I loved from my Forerunner 235, plus an amazing battery life that was more than enough for my needs. After a couple hours of indecision I popped out to Fleet Feet and purchased a blue Forerunner 255, mailing back the Coros Apex the next day.

A couple weeks after purchasing the Forerunner 255 I did the Many on the Genny 45 miler and was extremely happy with my choice. After almost 11 hours of tracking it had only used about half the battery. Since then I've put two 50-milers and a marathon on the watch without complaint.

I'm hopeful that I can get 7 years out of this watch, just like the old Forerunner 235.