Mt. Tamalpais, Strava, and chasing virtual records.
LØPE MAGAZINE – Issue No. 011, August 2019
Words and illustration by Liam Boylan-Pett
The cruelest part has to be that it begins with a set of steep, unforgiving stairs.
Starting at a small square in Mill Valley, California, a runner attempting to run up Mount Tamalpais kicks things off by heading two blocks north, up Bernard Street. The Bernard Street hill is no joke, but it is not anything worth complaining about—like running on a treadmill with the incline set at three. Then, after about 45 seconds, the runner arrives at the stairs. They are like the stairs from The Exorcist, but with weeds and greenery enveloping the route. And the stairs are steep. Running up them, the lactic acid burn starts to build, and the runner begins breathing heavily.
It is a cruel commencement to a run, especially considering the runner still has over two-and-a-half miles to go to the summit.
Back in 2009, one year after Runkeeper was introduced to the public, the fitness app Strava launched. Strava, in its simplest form, began as an online community where athletes could store and map out any physical activity they participated in—cycling took center stage, but users could also log their running and swimming. If you had a G.P.S. watch or used the app on your phone, you were able to track all of your activities in the palm of your hand. Plus, you could follow other athletes to see how far and fast your friends were running, biking, and swimming. Garmin and Nike have similar apps now, as does Under Armour with it’s MapMyRun service, but Strava took off in its early stages thanks to its community of users and the leaderboard.
The leaderboard was, and is, exactly what it sounds like: A list of the top times on routes throughout the world. In Strava’s case, these courses are called segments, and they are user-generated. Per Strava’s support page, segments are “portions of road or trail created by members where athletes can compare times.”
To read more, sign in below, or register here.
You are unauthorized to view this page.