The Strangest Places People have Logged Activities on Strava


, by Howard Calvert

Molly Seidel got in 8km at Phoenix Airport during a layover.

What’s the strangest place you’ve run? For US Olympic bronze-winning marathon runner Molly Seidel, it could well be Phoenix Airport. While waiting for a flight in November, she did what many of us have often thought of doing to kill an hour pre-flight but never had the courage to do – she decided to stretch her legs and get a few laps in at the airport.

During her run, which she uploaded to Strava under the title ‘layover loops’, she completed 8km around the airport terminal before boarding her flight.

This got us thinking: where else have people run that isn’t strictly ‘the norm’? Which places pop up where you’d least expect to see someone uploading to Strava?

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It turns out that Phoenix isn’t the only airport where people run – Denver Airport received some notoriety earlier in 2023 when people began trying to top the segment ‘Gate change gnar’ inside the terminal. It’s a short, sharp sprint – perfect if you’re late for boarding, with the fastest time currently 11 seconds.

Then there’s running on the aptly-named runway itself. Some airports permit running during organised races, for example you can run on Inverness Airport runway in Scotland – but only as part of the annual 5K charity ‘Run the Runway’.

Then, just south of the Antarctic Circle, there’s the Rothera runway, at the Rothera Research Station, where some hardy folk have created a segment titled ‘Ops, Ops, Runway status please!’. You’ll need plenty of layers for that one.

Moving from runways to race tracks, there’s a wide range of running races that take place on famous Formula 1 tracks, including this 5km lap of Germany’s Nürburgring, and the Silverstone Half Marathon in the UK.

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But taking this a step further, you sometimes see competitive parents using any race track they can get on in which to compete and log some Strava activity, including kids’ pedal karts, such as this one at Falmer Palmer’s Activity Farm in Poole (as the segment says: remember dads, it’s not a race!). (Full disclosure: this is one I Strava’d myself.)

Beat the crowds

Tourist spots also sometimes allow for some unusual run tourism. In Athens, for example, you can run on the track the Panathenaic Stadium, aka 1896 Olympic running track (after paying entry to the stadium), and you can also pop your trainers on at Stonehenge in England, where someone added a segment around the famous stone circle. Or there’s a segment up to the top of The O2 dome in London, where you can pay to get roped onto the roof and walk your way over the arena. Or how about a lap of Rome’s Colosseum?

Other places that have become tourist attractions are former prisons, which have seen people pound the concrete floors – San Francisco’s Alcatraz, for example, has a ‘Prisoner’s Run’ segment, and Robben Island in Cape Town, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, now has a 10km race around the island.

Robben Island has seen a fair few activities. Photography by: Grant Duncan-Smith

Somewhere else where you wouldn’t expect to run is theme parks – in particular, England’s Alton Towers, which if you can get someone to keep your place in the queue, you can run a 9km loop entitled ‘Should have had an extra Weetabix’.

Grave concern

Cemeteries are not top of most people’s running destinations, but in Ontario, legendary runner Ed Whitlock, who broke marathon records well into his 80s, used to almost exclusively train on a 400m loop of his local Evergreen Cemetery, apparently because it was flat and well-sheltered.   

Going underground usually loses GPS, so Strava doesn’t have many tunnel-based segments, but on the island of Guernsey, there’s a German Underground Military Hospital where you can see from the Heatmap that there are cycling events that take place in the corridors. See also the Bovington Tank Museum in Dorset, which hosts an annual ‘Night At The Museum’ marathon inside the building, with runners completing 46 laps around the tank-based exhibits.

And if you search hard enough on Strava’s Global Heatmap feature and you’ll find doughnut-shaped running routes seemingly in the middle of the ocean. If you’re scratching your head as to why, it’s people logging miles while working on oil rigs.

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