Suunto Race Review: A Big, Bright Screen With Some Quirks!

Buying a watch can be a delicate balance between a four figure expenditure for all the bells and whistles or something much more modest which is matched by the build quality. The Suunto Race seems to sit itself as a good balance between price and quality.

Suunto Race: Introduction

The Race is Suunto’s mid priced multisports watch. Slightly less feature packed than their top of the line Vertical, it still offers over 95 sports modes, a sizable battery and a stunning screen. Coming in either a stainless steel or titanium version, the Race is a robust, well built and premium feeling watch. Since I received the Race in late November, I have used it for running, training and daily use. It has seen a huge variety of conditions and has been put through the ringer in a variety of ways. Currently, it has around 1000 miles (1600 km) of running use along with various other sports sessions. 


My main point of comparison as a dedicated running watch will be the Coros Pace 2 (I’ve never owned a Garmin). There are huge gulfs in the material quality and feel of the watches. However, there are areas of functionality which rather outweigh this for me. But, more of that later. For this review, do not expect the depth and detail of DC Rainmaker. I am not a tech expert. My perspective will be as a runner who has lived with the watch for about 6 months of daily use. Let’s dive in!

What I Like About The Suunto Race:

There is a lot to like about the Suunto Race. 


Here, I will start with the most obvious. The screen. It is stunning. A 1.43” AMOLED touch screen offers great readability and visibility in all conditions. From glaring sunshine to pitch black 5:30am runs, I have never had an issue with seeing the information I need. However, as someone with wrists which are on the smaller side, it does look a little large. When I first received the Suunto Race, it felt like I had strapped a kettle bell to my wrist. I had been spoiled by the ultralight Pace 2. However,  I soon stopped noticing the size and weight. The display is crisp, clear and very easy to see. 


The touchscreen itself has a good mix of being responsive while not succumbing to over sensitivity. Wet sleeves and inadvertent sweaty hand drags have never caused accidental starts or stops. That being said, I have always preferred to use the digital crown for navigation on the move. It is rapid, easy to navigate with and has yet to let me down on a run.

Suunto Race Faces (2 of 4)
Suunto Race Faces (3 of 4)

Suunto Race Maps: Removing Navigation Nightmares

Secondly, the maps have been excellent. With the 32gb of storage offered on the titanium version which I received, I have been able to download maps to use offline.  These have covered me from the UK to France, Belgium and beyond. Coupled with the quality of the screen, the maps have been a revelation for me when I have been exploring new destinations.


Map clarity and GPS accuracy, in my experience, have allowed me to navigate both city and trail routes with ease. I was very pleased with the performance on some trail runs. Here, the watch helped me to effortlessly find tiny footpaths and bridleways with unerring accuracy. When I did miss a turn, it was very easy to use the screen to navigate my way back to the correct spot. 


The GPS has also proven to be accurate, quick locking and consistent. My morning run is always the same distance. This is something that can’t be said for my Apple Watch. Even on runs in big cities such as Paris and London, the Suunto Race has locked on and held true. On only a couple of occasions have I suffered from wild recording. Both times I think are due to me being too quick to press start and get on the move.

Suunto Race Maps
Suunto Race Maps 2

Brilliant Battery Life

Furthemore, the battery has proven to be super strong. Every so often, I will notice that the battery has dropped to a level where it is asking me to charge. But I have never found it wanting on a run.


That being said, one thing that could be improved upon is the charger which is provided in the box. It distinctly lacks the premium feel of the rest of the package and there are times when I have had to fiddle with the placement of the watch to get a charge going. However, once the watch is charged, it is good to go for a long while. This is very handy if, like me, you have headed off for a trip and left the wire at home.

Simple and Robust

During my use of the Suunto Race, I have also been very pleased with the ease of use for a variety of sports. For general running and track sessions, it really couldn’t be easier to use. Two button clicks and you are away. The digital crown and both buttons have a very healthy feel to the click. They leave no doubt that they have been pressed. One button pauses the run and allows access to a menu for maps, saving and discarding. The digital crown cycles through the various data screens and map. Whilst the third button takes care of lapping duties.


Despite months of sweat, mud and assorted clunks and bangs, the Suunto Race has shown no signs of damage or degradation. Indeed, I took a rather heavy fall recently which removed skin from above and below the watch. However,  the screen and surrounds remained unscathed.


Whilst I have very much enjoyed the ease of use for simple activities, I do have some bugbears with the Race as a more dedicated session watch. However, more of that later.

Suunto RAce Data 1
Race Data 2

Suunto Race App

For me, the app is another plus point for the Suunto Race. Easy to use, clearly presented data and a simple interface mean that synching activities is a doddle and creating workouts is very intuitive. The Suunto app has its own built-in Strava-like features which allow you to follow and befriend others in the Suunto ecosystem. Sadly, this is not a feature I have explored as I only know one other person who owns a Suunto watch! The maps and data from each run, however, are well presented, easy to read. Furthermore, the inbuilt trophy system for longest, fastest and frequency of activity is a fun little motivator at times. 


Overall, I have very much enjoyed the screen, simplicity and navigation features of the Suunto Race. The built quality has withstood all conditions and clumsiness on my behalf. Also, at no stage have I needed to worry about a low battery.

Suunto Race Body

Suunto Race: The Downsides

Unfortunately, life with the Race is not all AMOLED bright roses. There are some parts of the Suunto Race which have caused me consternation and headaches. 


For me, the most glaringly obvious issue I have faced with the Suunto Race is the heart rate monitor. Having used it for 206 runs so far, I have never once had an accurate heart rate reading for a whole activity. In fact, my cadence graph and heart rate graph are frequently identical. For someone who has an average cadence of around 206 spm on an easy run, this does make my heart rate look rather ridiculous.


Thankfully, I am not much of a heart rate based trainer but if this is something which is important to you, it is very much worth noting. Despite purchasing an aftermarket watch strap and following all of Suunto’s handy advice on how to get accurate readings, nothing has worked. I am sure that this could be fixed with a chest or bicep style heart rate monitor but when both my Apple Watch and Coros Pace 2 are able to deliver sensible and accurate readings on a run, it is a shame that the Race can’t.

Cadence Lock
Cadence Lock 2

Workout Worries

Secondly, and as mentioned above, the Race is very easy to use for pressing go and heading out for a run. When trying to run a structured workout either by time or distance, things get a little tricker. Whilst building the workout on the app and synching it to the watch itself is a doddle, tracking the workout on the watch is less intuitive. I love the ease with which the Coros Pace 2 displays all the data I want automatically. If I am running a rep by distance, the remaining distance will be on screen. Running by time, the countdown is easy to see. The Coros Pace 2 will automatically give a countdown into and out of each rep. Pace alerts come as standard. 


Unfortunately, this is not the case with the Suunto Race. In order to get the information I wanted, there is a requirement to build a bespoke data screen for that activity. This means I now have several running workout activity selections on my watch and need to remember which goes with what. Whereas the Coros will give your wrist a buzz if you fall out of your programmed pace range, I have not found a way to do this on the Suunto Race. There is no countdown to the start and end of each rep, just a buzz when it is done or started. 


Furthermore, when building a data screen for a specific workout, the data fields are not always intuitive. There was more than one occasion when I thought I had the watch set up for what I wanted only to be disappointed by the data I received during the workout. This is frustrating as I don’t want to be thinking while trying to run hard. This is where the simple interface of the Pace 2 wins out every time for me.

Suunto Race Header

The Strap

Another gripe I had, which is related to the heart rate, is the strap. The silicone strap provided with the Suunto Race proved to be an issue for me. Were I to pull it tight enough to register something approaching a reasonable heartate and also hold on my narrow wrists, the metal clasp left me with large indentations on my wrist. One occasion, it even caused me broken skin. Thankfully, I was able to fix this issue with a cheap purchase of a fabric and velcro strip from Amazon, but it really did reduce the comfort factor of the watch.

My Personal Peeves

Finally, it also has a couple of smaller issues I have found which, again, seem like minor oversights but can cause irritation where unnecessary. The first of these is the way the Suunto Race automatically updates overnight. This is good, ensuring the latest features, optimisations and bug fixes are always applied. However, it does reset many features to factory settings. Alerts which I had turned off reappear. Things I had set up to make the watch better for my running have gone. It is a minor thing which only requires a few button presses but, nonetheless, is annoying when it occurs. 


Secondly, and this may be more of a me issue than a Suunto issue, is that the Race is missing a “find my watch” feature. When wearing the watch, there is a button I can press to find my phone. However, this is not the case in reverse. I have recently had a baby and as such my house and life is a little disorganised.


There was an occasion when I had taken off my watch after a run, became involved in fathering. Then, the location of my watch in the house completely escaped me. With my Coros, I can press a button in the app and it’ll start buzzing and whistling until I find it. Sadly, this does not exist in the Suunto that I could find. Instead, I had to try and persuade my month old baby to remain silent whilst I turned off all notifications on my phone and used another phone to repeatedly call myself while I listened for the faint vibration of the Race. Not ideal.

Suunto Race Conclusion: Finding the Balance

The Suunto Race is my every day running watch, I like the feel of it compared to my Coros Pace 2. The screen is stunning and use of the watch is super simple. For general running and track workouts, it is easy to use and has never let me down. That being said, if you are a person who values heart rate training, this watch alone will not cut it. I would also like to see some tweaks to the functionality and ease of use in structured workouts on the watch. I don’t want to work hard in order to work hard! 


The Suunto Race gives a lot of watch for the money. It is definitely worth considering if you are in the market for a watch, particularly for navigation on the go. Although, if you are of the slender wristed persuasion, it may be worth trying before you buy.



45 years old

173cm (5’8″) – 66kg (145lbs)

Forefoot striker – (Very) high cadence runner


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