Strava now lets you create your own virtual challenges, letting you set up friendly competitions with up to 24 friends based on time, distance, speed, or elevation gain.
The new feature is part of Strava's biggest update of 2021, which also adds personalized segment suggestions to help you plan a run or ride – whether you want to try something new, find a good place to break a personal record, or find somewhere you're close to being the Local Legend.
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Strava already let you take part in its own monthly challenges, but these are open to every user, so unless you're an elite athlete you're likely to find yourself somewhere well down the leaderboard. Creating your own challenge makes the competition more personal, while also bringing you and your workout buddies closer together.
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The launch coincides with Global Running Day 2021, and it's particularly timely this year. The pandemic has meant that teams and clubs have often been unable to meet to train in person, and events have been cancelled or postponed – from local 5k Parkruns right through to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which has resulted in an overall decline in sports participation.
Virtual events have taken the place of a lot of real-life races and competitions, and there are various options if you want to make your own, including services like My Virtual Mission, which lets you set a goal based on distance that you can work towards as a team, or in competition with one another. However, there are some drawbacks; these can be expensive and tricky to set up, particularly if they don't sync with your friends' preferred workout apps.
What makes Strava's challenges different is that they're free to create and participate in, and so many runners, cyclists, walkers and other athletes already have the app installed, creating and joining challenges is very little extra effort.
You can create three challenges for free; to make more, you must be a Strava subscriber, or have a free trial. To get started, select 'Groups' from the bottom navigation bar of the Strava mobile app, then tap 'Group Challenges' to begin.
Non-subscribers can take part in three challenges, either by joining via invite or as the creator. Check out Strava's Group Challenges blog post for further details.
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