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The pandemic-era sports boom shows no signs of slowing and extreme weather is increasingly impacting athletes, both according to Strava‘s annual data report released today. The social sports platform, which now has more than 95 million users and saw 1.8 billion activity uploads over the past year, said global activity rates are rising to new record levels with a 38% increase in activities compared to last year (which itself was something of a surge with a 33% rise over 2019).
“Even as the global athletic community endured another year of pandemic disruptions and restrictions, we saw a persistent desire from athletes to stay connected and keep one another active. Athletes from every country on earth recorded and shared their runs, bike rides, and lunchtime walks,” Strava CEO Michael Horvath said.
The report, which analyzed data from Oct. 1 last year through to Sept. 30 this year, shows that two million new athletes joined the platform each month, with a total of 37 million activities being uploaded per week. While it was nordic and backcountry skiing that saw the biggest increase in activity uploads, triathletes will be pleased to see that swimming, indoor riding and running, and outdoor running and riding all saw sizable increases as well.
The huge spike in run activity uploads from last year has not fallen away with significant numbers of runners who joined the platform in 2020 setting new PRs this year, particularly over the longer distances such as half-marathon, marathon, and 50K. Of the runners who joined Strava in 2020, 2.2X as many set a new PR over 13.1 miles, 2.4X set a new marathon PR, and 2.7X set a new best over 50K.
Competing Against Climate Change
Strava’s report shows that extreme weather is also beginning to have more and more of an impact on athletes’ activities and behavior. Be it storms, wildfires, heat, or flooding, there is oftentimes a significant drop in outdoor activity. For example, during winter storm and power outages in Texas in February, outdoor activities dropped by 57%. During Hurricane Ida, outdoor activities in Louisiana dropped by 40%.
Community is Everything
While the gradual return of in-person events has obviously been welcomed by athletes the world over, the desire for community and connection online seems to remain at an all-time high. More than 189,000 new clubs were created on Strava this year (you can join the Triathlete Strava Club here) and the number of people joining clubs grew by 37% this year (on top of an already significant increase last year). And for those who might have felt their motivation waning due to a lack of races and events, it seems that Strava’s group challenges helped keep many of us motivated: There was double the participation in challenges (which had already doubled from 2019 to 2020) and half of all group challenge participants uploaded more activities in the 30 days after starting a challenge than in the 30 days prior. Also worth noting is that athletes who set a goal for the New Year did two hours more activity in January than those who didn’t.
U.S. Stats at a Glance
Average distance per run: 3.7 miles
Average duration per run: 35 minutes 29 seconds
Average distance per ride: 13.8 miles
Average duration per ride: 1 hour 7 minutes