From backyard trails to exotic destinations, online running app delivers killer routes
— By Gordon Wright
Cyclists have used Strava for years to not only log their mileage and routes, but also compete against everyone else who pedals the same territory. Increasingly, though, Strava is gaining popularity among runners and hikers looking not only for friendly competition, but also the ability to explore the world.
Using features like “Build a Route,” Strava lets you check out new terrain and roll into a strange place with local-level beta. Strava works with GPS watches like Garmin, but it is most convenient using their mobile app, where your phone serves as your GPS tracker.
A Strava segment has been run or ridden in every country on earth, so a world-wide network of killer routes and “segments” are at your fingertips, no matter where you find yourself itching to go for a run.
Here are a few dream routes – with their segment numbers bolded at the end – already rung up by Strava runners, both near and far.
Tahoe’s Tunnel Creek: Big blue vista
Running uphill on the pummeled granite of Tunnel Creek “Road,” you get sublime stretches of trail and forest. But the real payoff is attaining the open vistas 1,300 feet above. From here on Tahoe’s northeast elbow, you have a spectacular view of translucent Sand Harbor far below, and access to the Flume Trail just beyond. #1711980
Malibu: Lance’s pain
If you think a trail run in Malibu is all beaches and Gucci, you’re way wrong. On the north side of town is a scorching ascent of Puerco Canyon. Strava’s King of the Mountain on the segment is none other than Lance Armstrong. However, to compound his troubles, he’s since been surpassed–twice. It’s a 1,200 foot climb in just two miles, but when you drop back down into the Malibu Country Mart, you’ll have earned your $11 smoothie. # 729913
Kalalau Trail: Hawaii’s greatest route
Not too many runners have what it takes to run the Kalalau Trail. Likely the world’s most scenic out and back, this segment is the route’s proving ground – you’ve hit the beach at Kalalau after 11-rocky-miles, only to turn around to tackle a monster climb. Enjoy the views because you still have ten miles to get back to your car. # 1011393
Leadville 100: The crux of ultrarunning’s beast
The crux of the legendary Leadville 100 trail race is the double-crossing of Hope Pass. Marking the high point of the race route, Hope Pass sits at a lung-busting 12,540 feet. The southern approach is shorter, but the route starting at the north end, near Twin Lakes, is more accessible. Either way, plan for some burning legs and (literally) breathtaking views. # 2366596
Wales Coast Path: The UK’s most remote route
The British take their footpaths seriously, and one of the longest and most gorgeous is the Wales Coast Path, completed in 2012 and stretching for 870 miles. One of the highlights is literally at the end of the road: the North Wales Expressway. This section of the Wales Coast Path glides along the coastal plain of Anglesey, where you can enjoy a post-run pint at the Stanley Arms in nearby Holyhead. # 3909642
Amalfi Coast: Veni, vidi, vici…vino
Questo viaggio, è bello! So beautiful that this segment, situated on the south side of the Sorrento peninsula, will make you forget that you’re climbing over 600 feet in two and a half miles. One of the few paved roads listed here, your reward is vistas for days, olive orchards and a hilltop village. # 3674267
The Costa Brava Trail: Guided runs in Spain
Unlike most of these runs, you can actually get a guided tour of the wild coast of Catalonian region of northeastern Spain. You can run any of the segments listed in the Girona region, but Runningcostabrava. com will guide you on trips from one to five days, so you can enjoy the soaring views of the Mediterranean.