In a year of virtual races I’ve had a number of times when I’ve been asked to forward the GPX data file to the organiser so they can update their results. Whilst it’s not a difficult task it is one that can be a little difficult to find, so I thought I’d do a short post to explain how to do it.
What’s a GPX?
A GPX file is a data file which contains geographical information about a route. It has however been extended slightly so that actual workout data can also be transferred alongside the route information. It’s written in a format called Extended Markup Language (another three-letter acronym XML) which is readable by lots of different devices and the GPX standard means that such information can be created on one device and understood by another.
The files aren’t particularly pretty to look at but you maybe see the tracking points included and the timestamp; a GPX trace is just a long list of these data points which are measured on a regular basis by your device (possibly one point per second, or less frequently). In the example below you can also see HR readings being included, and temperature (under the extensions section):
Most modern GPS devices understand GPX although some, such as Garmin, write their data in other formats (such as FIT which contain a lot more information that sits outside of the GPX format). But there are ways and means to get back to a GPX and so I thought I’d explore a couple of options.
I’ve used Garmin devices for about 7 years now so this first approach is specific for Garmin:
If you’re a Garmin device user, you’ll more than likely have also created a profile on their Garmin Connect platform which is used, in part to synchronise the watch/other GPS to your mobile phone.
I find it easier to do this using the computer version of Garmin Connect – it might be possible on the mobile app, but I haven’t found a way so far.
- On your computer log in to https://connect.garmin.com
- Put your login details into the box and sign in. You’ll come to a big ‘home page’ that will probably be different to mine because you can set up different things in it. So rather than worrying about the main part of the page look to the left hand side where there are a list of options. You want to click into the ACTIVITIES group and select “all activities“. This will give you the screen as follows with a list of all your activities from the most recent going back to older ones.
- Select the activity you need the GPX for and the page will open to show everything that Garmin recorded for that activity. Here’s my recent race route from the Day Release ultra:
- In the top right corner of the activity is a gear wheel (see highlighted above). If you click this you’ll get a menu as follows which includes the option to Export to GPX (there are other options too, but let’s stick with GPX for now):
- Once you’ve clicked “Export to GPX” your computer will probably ask you what you want to do with it. Choose the “save” option and the GPX file will be saved onto your computer (probably into your Downloads folder but that all depends on how you have your computer set up).
- And that’s it, pretty straightforward once you know where to look!
Whilst I don’t know where other GPS manufacturers hide their GPX files, if you use Strava, you can access any of your GPX files from the Strava website instead.
In theory the GPX would be identical to the one from your GPS device, but in practice it may be slightly different if Strava has dropped out any of the extra information that it doesn’t know what to do with. That said, the route and times should still be the same so it’s unlikely to be a big issue, but there may some minor differences..
I’ve always done this from my computer and accessed Strava via a web browser. Whilst it may be possible to do from your phone, I’ve not had any success this way.
- Log in to your Strava account using a web browser on your computer and find the activity that you want to get the GPX for:
- If you look to the left of your activity there are a few menus. Under these there is an icon of a pencil and an icon of three dots. It’s this second icon that you need to press and it will generate a menu which includes “Export GPX”:
- Once you click “Export GPX” Strava will have a quick think about it before giving you the option to “Save” or “View” the file. You need to select “Save” and the GPX file will be downloaded to your computer. Again, where it ends up depends on your computer settings, but “Downloads” is a good bet if you’re not sure.
Hopefully this will help you find that elusive GPX file when you’re next asked to provide one!