Analysis of Ashley Paulson’s Record Setting Badwater 135 Race

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Background

Badwater 135 Course Map

Ashley Paulson set the women’s record with a time of 24:09:34 at Badwater 135. This was Ashley’s first race over 100 miles, and was an incredible performance for a first timer, and when compared to her prior times.

Her result was generating controversy almost immediately. There is a letsrun thread. Canadian Running Magazine referenced Ashley’s past issues and characterized the results as ‘raising a few eyebrows’ where they mentioned her 2016 ban from triathlon competition. There were replies questioning her result on The Badwater Facebook page, and at least two well known female ultrarunners runners started their own threads on Facebook where doubts were voiced on Ashley’s performance.

Harvey Lewis finished behind Amber, in 4th place. Harvey was already aware of the controversy. Harvey ran into Amber, a crew member for Ashley while hiking on Thursday (The day before the initial Marathon Investigation article was published).

I told Amber that based on my experience of going for the FKT on the Appalachian Trail and also the FKT of the Badwater 146, the best way to solidify Ashley’s results in the face of questions would be for Ashley to release her data.” – Harvey Lewis

I wrote the initial article in an effort to ultimately try to resolve these questions, not to accuse Ashley. If ran legitimately, it would ultimately be in Ashley’s, and the community’s interest to debunk as many of these allegations as publicly as possible. Conversely, if she did not run the race fairly, that needed to come out as well to preserve integrity of the race and sport.

While she has won all the ultras that she entered, her times were not predictive of this result. There has been no evidence presented indicating that there was anything questionable with those results. She set the woman’s course record at The Pony Express Trail 100 and Race Director Davy Crockett posted that when he drove the course, he saw her running and nothing raised any suspicions.

Since she won all those races, she may not have pushed as hard as she is capable,. If she had been pushed, her final times may have been closer to what many would have expected for someone capable of running Badwater in just over 24 hours.

What This Article Will Address

I will present the analysis relating specifically to her data. I will address the concerns that were initially raised with that data. Ashley’s Husband shared her .GPX file which allowed for a more detailed analysis, and made it easier to track her on the course relative to other runners to evaluate reports from on the course.

I will address the questions that were being raised by others on the course. As part of my research, I spoke to her crew member Amber Green and exchanged multiple emails with Ashley’s husband, Matt. Both were very cooperative given the questions that were asked, as many probably seemed irrelevant, or outright absurd.

Was Ashley’s Result Really That Unbelievable

I posted tables put together by Camille Herron in the first article. While the data was accurate, it is not the only way to compare results. It is certainly not the only way to evaluate her performance. There are many ways to look at the data, and there are many variables when comparing results, especially results under different conditions over different years.

The below chart compares the top 4 runners from this year and shows their total times and final two splits. These are the sections that jumped out to many as unbelievable.

Final splits – 2022 Badwater135- Top 4 Finishers

Looking at the top 4 runners, Yoshi was not being pushed at the end and he ran a slower final 2 splits much slower than Ivan or Ashley. Similarly, Harvey had his position locked in and may not have had the motivation to push as hard on the final climbs.

Ashley’s time over the last two splits was 8 minutes faster than Ivan’s, that calculates to roughly 5% faster than him. Ashley was pushing Ivan. They knew she was closing at Portal Road. Ashley was chasing the record. That variance, in most circumstances, wouldn’t raise eyebrows in a competitive final push.

I will be the first to admit that there are many ways to present the data and to frame the significance of Ashley’s last two splits. This table is not to downplay her result, but to show that when compared to a runner in the most similar circumstance, the splits are extremely impressive, but maybe not the outlier to the extent as was previously presented. I think most runners will tell you that competition is needed to push you to your best performance.

Matt, Ashley’s husband, commented to me that he planted that bug in her ear.

You’re going to hate me for saying this right now, but you’ll also be mad at me tomorrow if I don’t tell you this… but if you can maintain ‘x’ pace (I think it was around a 13:30 average) then you have a chance at breaking the course record.” I continued to say, “you have nothing to prove, just finishing will give you the win at this point, but if you can dig just a bit deeper, you can chase the record. I know it will hurt more but I know you can do it. It’s your call” At that point, she had no idea how close she really was to the record and basically said, “what do I got to lose? I’m going for it” The fire was relit, she got an extra surge of energy and went for it. Matt Paulson’s retelling of his conversation with Ashley

Ashley’s GPS Data

Ashley publicly shared her Garmin Connect data Friday evening, after my initial article.

Immediately some questions arose regarding the links. I addressed those issues on my Facebook page as they came up.

Summary Data: Edited

The summary data on both files indicates that there was an edit. Online there were accusations that she somehow modified the data. Shortly after seeing her files, I asked another runner to send me their Garmin Connect link, it also came across as Summary Data: Edited

The only edit the other runner made was to change his privacy settings. On the Garmin Connect Mobile App, you change privacy through the edit function. I confirmed this will trigger the message. We know that Ashley did change the settings, which would have triggered the message.

Stride Length

The summary page shows a large variance between her average stride length between the two files. The second file shows a much longer average stride length than the first file. The second file also includes the long uphill stretch. This average includes the 5 minutes + when Ashley finished her run to when she stopped her watch. The GPS signal jumped around while she wasn’t really moving. This calculated an average stride length of 24.26 for this section which inflated the average stride length for the entire entry. Throwing out that final reading, her stride length looks reasonable.

Charging Watch/2 Files

Why 2 entries? Her model of GPS shows that it will last up to 25/28 hours in full GPS mode. We know she had heart monitor on which also limits battery life. It is reasonable that it would have needed a short boost. Matt indicated that she was concerned that her watch may die and would rather have the gap on that stretch than crossing the finish. I will also note that one of the runner’s data that I used as a comparison was split into 6 files. Having two files is not reason for suspicion in itself.

Extracted .GPX File

If you have a Garmin and sync your watch through Garmin Connect, you can also export the raw data file. But you can only export the file if the run was logged under your account. So, only Ashley could export her raw data.

On Thursday morning I woke up to a message from an individual that was able to extract .GPX files from Garmin Connect. She shared the files with me, and on the surface they looked unusual. For the first file, the paces for early miles were less than a minute per mile, further on the data showed over 40 minutes per mile, and then settled to more believable paces. There were also less data points that would be expected. She walked me through the method she used, and I attempted to replicate it using another runner’s Badwater entry from Garmin Connect. The 2nd runner’s file showed nearly identical anomalies.

The file extracted was generated with the purpose of mapping the course. We determined quickly that the pace data and lack of data points was meaningless.

GPX File

I wanted to fully address all theories related to her GPS files. At this point, I was fairly confident that the GPS data was clean. However, I wanted to make sure. I was receiving messages questioning her path as shown on the map, and more. I wanted to more thoroughly examine the data. Through a mutual contact, I contacted someone associated with GPX verification professionals. I am not naming the service because those that helped me were doing so in an unofficial capacity. They reviewed the Garmin Connect link and didn’t see anything to indicate any wrongdoing. They recommend that I obtain a .GPX or .Fit file for a more thorough analysis.

I emailed Mark, and he shared Ashley’s two .GPX files. These were reviewed independently for any anomalies. Key points from their analysis.

Regarding the theory that she was handing the watch to a pacer for portions of the course:

  • if she was handing off the watch to a pacer, you’d think there’d be a big discoupling of heart rate and elevation/pace, as a new fresh person takes over. The runner is tired, has a high heart rate, hands the watch over to a fresh person, heart rate would suddenly drop even if pace stayed the same or sped up, along with other metrics like cadence changing too. I don’t see really obvious trends of that..
  • There are 2 places on the 2nd track where her pace briefly goes to 0, and they are both before Lone Pine. If her pacer handed the watch back to her on the Portal road they did it without stopping.

I received messages regarding her track on Lone Pine. The map shows her track moving erradically and generally on the right side of the road.

  • What’s clear is that the other guy’s Coros gives better GPS data than her Garmin. Which doesn’t surprise me. But anyway, I would be confident in saying that the “wandering” you observe in her track after Lone Pine is GPS error. Note she seems to wander well off the road. If you were creating a fake track you wouldn’t do that. You can’t tell which side of the road she ran on because her GPS simply isn’t that good. Except she definitely ran on the right side for the US395 section. I think either side would be equally reasonable through there, and I would rather cross the busy highway where she did than where the other runner did.

Additionally they reviewed the initial file and felt that generally her stats aligned with what would be expected on the course relative to cadence, heart rate and pace. Here are her charts, isolating each metric.

Heart rate
Pace
Cadence

The charts are presented separately since it is shows the trends much better, particularly the heart rate which was the metric that most questioned. I also reviewed cadences for any unexplained variances, and did not find anything unexpected.

As analyzed by myself, and by a third party, the data is clean and would indicate that Ashley ran the race legitimately.

In conjunction with the analysis of the data, I analyzed and reviewed a number of concerns, and alleged inconsistencies from various people that were at the course.

On Course Observations

There were quite a few reports sent to me, and observations from on the course that I evaluated. I am sharing my analysis, evidence from a crew member and possible explanations.

The Mystery Van

I spoke to a race official who reported on an incident 6-8 miles past The Panamint checkpoint. I cannot report the details, as the incident is being investigated. Related to the incident is a second van that the official reported as being near the crew van. If this second van were assisting, that would be a rules violation. He described this van as a Sprinter van. When the official was able to turn around and head back up the course, he did not see Ashley’s van or the sprinter van.

The van came up in multiple communications with runners, crew and the race official. The race official reported seeing the van again on Portal Road, and saw a man in the driver’s seat wearing sunglasses. Other runners, including Lewis, reported seeing the same unmarked van, “parked like a speed trap” and the man inside. He stuck out because he was wearing sunglasses late at night.

After shown a photo, the race official later indicated that the man looked like Matt, the husband of crew member, Amber Green.

Was The Van Tied to The Crew?

I had two long conversations with Amber. Amber kept detailed notes for the first part of the run (which she shared). In the first conversation I asked about her husband, and the van. She confirmed that her husband and friends drove a sprinter van, but did not arrive until after Ashley’s race was over. Within probably 15 minutes of our conversation she sent me a mountain of evidence indicating that the van, and Matt arrived later. This evidence includes a fuel receipt, and group chats showing Matt was leaving Friday morning, cabin reservations, and a locksmith receipt corroborating the messages in the chat indicating that the keys got locked in the van.

Just some of the evidence Amber sent indicating Matt and the van could not have been on the course during the race

This evidence aligns with what Amber told Harvey.

There was question of a second vehicle. Amber’s husband Matt, sister, friend Ian and his wife came down from the mountain. I spoke to them at the trail head and we had a nice conversation. Amber told me that her husband Matt had to work and didn’t come during the race. Also, her sister and friend Ian as well as his wife all arrived at the end of the race when Bob Becker was finishing. All of them were unable to attend the award ceremony because they arrived after the event.– Harvey Lewis

As I told Amber, to believe that Matt was there in that van during the race, you would have to believe that days before the race that they scripted conversation on the off chance Matt was identified in the van during the race and forged or otherwise involved the locksmith in order to get the receipt for the lock out. This would be the type of cover up you would expect during a murder trial, not a Badwater rules violation.

Frazil-Gate

There was a photo of Ashley and a photo of Sarah, drink outside Panamint. This was presented as possible evidence that the crew left Ashley for an extended period of time to be able to have a cold drink at this point. It was reported that the soda machine was broken at Stovepipe Wells. The mystery was solved by simply asking Amber. Amber reported that yes, the soda machine was broken, but the Frazil machine was working. The drink in question is a Tiger’s Blood Frazil purchased from Stovepipe Wells, likely kept in the cooler until just prior to this photo, taken outside Panamount. I post this section just to show the level I went to in order to address every single concern.

Spotting Ashley on the Course

There were multiple reports of runners or crews not spotting Ashley on the course in spots where they felt she would be visible. For these claims, I uploaded her run (I combined her files) and the runs of other runners to compare relative placements.

I reviewed the areas in question, and often the data would show that the gap between the runners was larger than was estimated. The runner or crew would confirm it was possible they just couldn’t see her given the actual distance or that visibility may have been less than assumed. The GPX file, and visibility of runners’ relative positions I gained through utilizing the Strava Flyby was critical in allowing me to quickly visualize the gaps and run through any questions sections that were questions.

I did not find any sections that could not be reasonably explained through the data or verified sightings of Ashley running.

Summary

It is my strong belief that Ashley’s result is legitimate. There is nothing in the data to indicate otherwise, based on my review, and the review by the GPX verification professionals. All reports and claims from those on the course have been explained or otherwise dismissed.

I stand by my initial assertion that the scrutiny was justified. Record breaking results should be validated, and doubts should be alleviated as much as possible when questions are raised.

Finally, I hope that the community will fully accept that Ashley ran legitimately and recognize her achievement. It was my goal, that at the end of the process, that the community would have more confidence in the final results, had it been left for debate solely on message boards and social media.

I want to thank everyone who cooperated, especially Ashley, her husband and Amber for cooperating even when they may have felt that the questions were irrelevant. Also I appreciate the openness and willingness of runners, crew, and all others who shared their experiences.

It is my hope that all involved feel I treated them fairly and are satisfied that this article reflects the truth and that they know my intentions were always in the best interest of fairness and accuracy.

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28 COMMENTS

    • Cheating has consequences. When you’ve cheated by taking banned substances AND cut courses before, anything you do later will be scrutinized. This is especially true in Ashley’s case where she has tried to play the victim or obfuscate. The first article was right to raise these concerns.

      • It’s hilarious that Trolls that want to trash people are never brave enough to use there real name. Tells you all you need to know about the person.

  1. thanks for this article Derek, as well as the initial article. I felt it was presented as fairly as possible. pls continue your great work

  2. Great work. But I still have questions. There’s an investigation being conducted about the van? And can it be verified that her GPX data wasn’t edited?

    • There was zero evidence that it was edited.

      The van issue, is more related to a policy violation with National Park Service.

      Initially when the witness gave his account, the timeframe indicated potential cheating. But that was clearly refuted during my analysis.

  3. Congratulations to Ashley! One of the fastest Badwater finishers ever and new female recordholder.

    This is the actual investigation article that should have been written if one needed to be done at all.

    Derek mentions questions being asked before his first article. Hopefully he gains insight before next time that those questions were mostly limited to the ultra community before and his article dramatically increased the audience, hate , and accusations of cheating. I fear by his defensiveness that he will not.

    • I don’t see that runners geeking out over data in relatively obscure forums on the internet constitutes as hate. In fact, I saw almost no comments that criticized Ashley as a person, used foul language, or outright accused her of anything. People’s ears pricked up, for sure, and they wanted answers (some still want more), but it’s possible to respect someone and still want to dig into their results. This wasn’t about choosing sides, at least not for me or the people I have talked to about it.

      • “I saw almost no comments that criticized Ashley as a person, used foul language, or outright accused her of anything.”

        Then you weren’t seeing all the places where this was discussed. There’s some pretty stuff being said about Ashley, and it falls right into the things you said you didn’t see. That’s why half-hearted articles like MI’s first one (“hey, I heard this interesting thing”) should never have come out. The vitriol that is shared is impressive and sad.

      • If you saw almost no comments that criticized Ashley as a person or accused her of anything, you really didn’t read many of the comments here and on other forums.

        From Let’s Run forum after the MI post dropped (not nearly exhaustive)
        – Derek did an article about her! What I find fascinating is that he points out how her watch says 131 miles yet she uploaded her watch and it somehow shows 135 miles. How is that possible?
        – Let’s see the GPX file and we’ll see. I am almost positive that she never will produce it …Why are you invested in defending this two-time cheater?
        – in my opinion, once a course cutter, always a course cutter.
        – I do doubt her performance at Badwater
        – You are either: 1- close friend of the alleged cheater 2-family of the alleged cheater…
        – Once a cheater, always a cheater.
        – Ashley looks suspiciously fresh in that video taken at Stovepipe Wells. Totally fishy.
        – Ashely…do you know any dentists in Genesee Co MI by any chance?
        – This thread is so great !! Very reminiscent of you dorks defending that Meza guy that cheated over and over. She cheated!!! Hahahahahaahaha!!! Come clean beeeeatch!!!!
        – All seems incredibly fishy to me.
        – 47 minutes faster in the final 13.6 miles than the previous race record holder and faster than any male competitor ever. Nothing else need be considered. She cheated.

        The top Reddit article about it was submitted with the title “Badwater 2022 – course record holder Ashley Paulson – cheating accusations” as a link to the MI page.

        From Marathon Investigation’s Facebook, many comments went unmoderated without comment by the page owner (Post: Ashley Paulson Sets Course Record at Badwater – Many are Skeptical)
        – I don’t know anyone who runs a 1:14 1/2 marathon that races with music. No one. That is pack fodder mode. I don’t know about this Badwater result, but I’d bet it will not take too much digging to invalidate the result. She seems to be complete fraud…
        – She cheated and it seems pretty obvious based on her smashing the female record for that portion of the race by some 37 minutes. I will never understand why anyone does this, but I’m not a therapist either
        – The numbers are really damning
        – No way in hell she came in before Harvey Lewis!
        – She has no shame!
        – We all know what really happened! She beat all the Men’s times who were pros on the 2nd half? Was she drug tested ? She’s a fraud!!

        Unmoderated without comment by MI on the first MI post:
        – LOL, faster than Scott Jurek? There’s no way she did that on foot.
        – The burden of proof is definitely on her. She’s claiming to be the record holder. It’s up to her to prove it.
        – The thought of her running the last bit that much faster than Scott Jurek….? Gimme a break.
        – I am glad to see this getting the attention it deserves. I have respected Badwater for decades and this cheater’s win tarnishes the race and the sport.
        – Look, no one from your crew dresses exactly like you. That is very suspicious. And it was raced at night so pink her and all could be masked.
        – I bet there is photo / video evidence of different girls racing in her stead and her riding in the van. Somebody needs to offer a cash reward for that evidence.
        – GPS data will show as normal even if multiple people ran wearing the same watch in turns.
        – she has been found guilty of cheating before
        – As a fan of this site, I must say that when I see a post, I presume that I am looking at a cheater. No matter what caveats or disclaimers Derek uses, I initially surrender my discernment to the power of MI’s brand.

        Hopefully Ashley will now receive the accolades she deserves, and the internet trolls stirred up by this will allow her to enjoy what should have been a celebratory experience.

        • Many of those comments were ridiculous in the surface, and generally they were rebutted. I try to allow the discussion and tend to rely to heavily on users to report posts. I will be refreshing moderators as it has been awhile.

          Curious though why you cherry picked the letsrun comments from after my article, and didn’t post the one comment I made refuting some assumptions in that thread.

          • The reason I used comments from after your initial post was to illustrate how a high-profile site like MI making a “some are saying…” post fueled the conspiracy theories.

            While I concede that you made several attempts to set the record straight, it still does not appear from this current post that you apprecite how powerful your words are and how quickly people will take those comments and misinterpret them as presumptive guilt, or even an extensive history of cheating. It also creates a permanent record online of hundreds of people calling a record holder a cheat. That could still be archived both here and on Facebook to reduce to public impact to her name.

            Examples include how the splits data at the tail end were misconstrued in many ways, as evidence of cheating or even being impossible.

            Also allegations spread of being a cheater and doper when the evidence showed more likely someone who got a poor quality batch of amino acids from GNC.

            And someone who got lost at the end of a half and didn’t take the podium and made her distance public within 24 hours was labelled a serial course cutter and well-known cheater. Allegations which are not supported by the evidence presented.

            You did frequently clarify, but internet sleuths saw what they wanted and twisted it very quickly and easily.

            It is unfortunate that a world-class athlete would have to so publicly have allegations against her multiply, require a lengthy defense of her performance to be posted by the race director, and be called lots of names. She should have been celebrating.

            Many have pointed out that scrutiny of a record performance is warranted. It would be nice if that could be done with just a few elites, directors, runners with eyewitness info, and investigators with the results held until the end. Not the entire investigative process as it happens. Nobody would have been harmed by waiting two weeks to see the outcome of this investigation published.

            I will bow out of the conversation now.

            Congratulations to Ashley Paulson on an incredible race and her new place as women’s record holder at Badwater. That’s a level of elite few will ever achieve.

          • In those two weeks, it would have likely continued unfettered with little to no real analysis. Just my opinion. If I have to take the hit, so be it. I believe we are in a better place now as far as a consensus, had I not investigated. The intent with the first article was to address what was already being said, and work towards the facts. I have told Matt Paulson, that the one thing Inwould do differently was to word it stronger that we shouldn’t rush to judgement and wait for the facts.

        • Thanks for pointing these out. It’s really important. I’ve seen too much of people (largely women) being attacked on the internet lately (a certain celebrity trial comes to mind) and this type of online abuse is certainly rife on LR. Either I glazed over these comments or I’ve been inured to them. It’s worse than reddit over there, and that’s saying a lot.

          Understatement of the century, but we need to do a better job of seeing nuance, and not resorting to black and white thinking. I do think people were burned by what happened with Shelby Houlihan last year and it probably made a lot of people more cynical, myself included. But I got chills watching the video of Ashley finishing her race! Why can’t we be curious (as opposed to skeptical) and respectful at the same time? It’s tough, but not impossible.

  4. There are a couple of other things you could have done differently. The biggest was question and thoroughly analyze the data Camille Herron gave you before you published it. That table was the basis for much of the “she must have cheated” rush to judgment, but it didn’t include any info regarding time of day or temperature, and it didn’t include whether the athlete was currently chasing a position or record, or fighting to save their position – all of which are very relevant. Camille also selectively left out faster times on the basis of her subjective opinion (and bias). You normally go to great lengths when you analyze data that is given to you, but for some reason accepted Camille’s info without question.

    Another thing you did in the first article (and again in this one) is imply that Ashley is untested/unproven because she “this was her first race over 100 miles,” when in fact it definitely is not. She is a many time Ironman finisher and winner of a double ironman – a 281 mile race, of which the last 52 is running. How many other competitors that day had that credential under their belt? And no, not all 281 miles are running, but it is silly to imply that she came out of nowhere and it is so unexpected that she could break a 135 mile run record. TRAIL running is a different beast, but Badwater is not a trail race. Had she beat (for example) the Hard Rock record without a strong history of running trails, your “first 100 mile race” caveat would be more applicable.

    Lastly, please update the “skeptical” first article with a hyperlink to this one (right at the top, not buried).

  5. I appreciate the “Her result was generating controversy almost immediately…” paragraph, which addresses the main discomfort I had with the initial posts. I’d only heard of the controversy from this site, and the initial article seemed to me to amplify the controversy needlessly. Now that I have a better sense of what was out there, I’m much less bothered by the initial post. Good job with this — both posts.

    • Thank you. Even there, I barely touched on the amount of accusations and the prominence of the source of the accusations. I am disappointed that they are not standing up and either publicly owning their opinions, or accepting the results.

  6. Congratulations to Ashley Paulson on her course record! I am sorry that she had to deal with the investigation, but I for one, am someone that was skeptical when I first saw the results on the Badwater website (before any allegations were published) and was convinced by the reporting on this website that it is a valid record. I would have been less skeptical and my guess is that Derek wouldn’t have published his initial article if Ashley had initially released her gpx data. I can understand a reluctance of many people to share all their data on Strava or Garmin, but for races, especially if someone sets a course record, a failure to share data (when they were wearing a GPS watch) reasonably creates some skepticism. This is especially the case when it appeared that the race director has not reasonably responded to substantiated allegations of cheating at Badwater in 2014 documented on this site. In many races it is not easy to cheat, due to timing mats and photography, etc., but at Badwater with a support vehicle driving alongside you at all times it would be incredibly easy due to the small number of participants, darkness, long distances, etc. Given the $1595 entry fee for the race, it seems like there should be live GPS tracking like there are for many other events. I like the Harvey Lewis quote in the article talking about GPS data requirements for FKTs.

  7. Copy and paste from a dcrainmaker post on slowtwitch:

    ********************

    I’ve somewhat purposefully ignored most of this dumpster fire of a story, but, I will point out that as much occasional ire as ZADA [Zwift/cycling related – keep reading] gets from the community, in my deep-dive discussions with their data people about accusations, they’re often very well thought-through (both for and against an athlete being accused). They have a process, and specifically a process that won’t accuse an athlete unless the data is well beyond rock-solid. That means plenty of edge-cases are sided with an athlete when perhaps they shouldn’t be, but it avoids the shit-show that was this accusation. Now, that doesn’t mean I always agree with Zwift/ZADA on how the athlete/Zwift got into that situation (see the double-recording fiasco), but in terms of whether they did or didn’t do something, it’s well beyond solid in virtually every ZADA case (and I’ve looked at the details of all of them, even if I never bothered to post anything on some of them).

    In the case of MI, even the final summary article has numeous technical errors that are quite meaningful. For example, it’s cited that using a HR sensor would reduce battery life. That’s not true, in fact, it *VASTLY* increases battery life. Massively so, compared to the internal optical HR sensor. Also, it notes a ‘cadence sensor’, except, no such thing exists for running. There are running footpods, and there are HR sensors within built-in cadence, but no standalone sensor. Either way, for watches, ANT+ & BT sensors are massive battery savers compared to the internal optical HR sensors. Still, a Fenix 7S is a smaller watch with a smaller batter, and depending on the screens she was using (map, though we can see no specific course was loaded), it would burn more battery.

    In terms of files, while a GPX file is ‘fine’, it’s hardly a great data source for analysis. The .FIT files would be, in 2022, near impossible to fake/tamper with on a scale that’s meaningful for an outdoor effort of this distance. The quantities of data recorded by a recent Garmin watch into a .FIT file these days are absolutely mind-boggling, both the visible ones, and the slate of hidden fields Garmin records in there about all sorts of things (backlight time, exact battery levels, button presses, message vibrations, and on and on). Faking these at scale outdoors (or hell, even for a KM), especially on a course like Badwater, in the native .FIT file format would be a near impossible undertaking in both time and cost. And I don’t even think some of Garmin’s top .FIT file engineers (yes, they have those) could get it right, specifically to then concurrenetly manage match her known locations via photo/etc evidence (which these days would be geotagged and timestamped such that you’d have to get things down to the second perfect).

    Even for the accusations around battery charging, that’d have been trivial to validate if they simply loaded her .FIT file into the DCR Analyzer tool. It shows the Garmin battery levels recorded into the .FIT file. Or, they could have used free 3rd party open source tools to do the same.

    Same goes for the initial accusations about Garmin Connect ‘Summary Edited’. It took precisely 2 seconds to toggle an activity from private to public to see that it changes that field. Should it change it? Of course not – but that’s a Garmin thing to fix, and certainly one I suspect might get updated. But it shouldn’t be used as a core pillar for accusations like this.

    Anyways, my little rant is over for now.

    • I hesitate to publish this comment, as there is nothing he said that should cast doubt on the data. I certainly didn’t see anything he challenged as ‘quite meaningful’. He’s certainly an expert on the devices. I wont win an argument on technical specifications with him. That’s why reached out to a third party to analyze. I know my limitations. I can assure you, they are experts in spotting suspicious and modified files.

      I’m not sure what exactly he was stating about the heart rate monitor comment. But I am confident having that feature on will reduce the time a watch will stay charged (even if minimal). I wasn’t comparing watch types.

      Yes, I’ve learned that a .FIT file would be an even better source. I asked for .GPX and they provided. I wasn’t going to go back again. I believe that North of 99% of people would not be able to convincingly modify a .GPX file for that distance.

      • He means that if you are wearing an external HR strap like an HRM Pro or the like, that the Garmin watch will take HR data from that rather than from the internal wrist-based HR monitor on the watch, so using a HR strap actually saves watch battery life compared to not using one.

  8. I saw a couple of mentions of Fenix 7, however, her connect link indicates she had a Fenix 6s Pro Solar. Solar charging on that unit gives a claimed 28 hours of life in GPS mode.

  9. On a somewhat unrelated note, this analysis left me thinking that Garmin GPS data isn’t terribly accurate.
    Am I misreading that?
    Are there other apps/devices that are more accurate, or I completely overestimating how accurate GPS is?

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