fitness,  midlife,  Running

The death defying Strava segment

Regular runners will know that no run really counts, unless it’s on Strava. Furthermore, it usually has to have one or two segment records and a smattering of kudos from your fellow runners to make it feel worthwhile.

I have been a Strava user for as long as I can remember and, I admit, I am fairly addicted to it. So much so, that it is one of only a tiny number of apps on my phone that I actually pay the premium rate for.

One of the benefits of Strava Premium also happens to be its route planner which, when you’re away from home, can help you to find well trodden running routes around the places you are visiting.

I have used this feature numerous times, either with a recommended route, or plotting my own on Strava’s excellent interactive map. Every time, once sent to my watch, I have been faultlessly guided around my new locale, courtesy of the occasional vibration on my wrist telling me to turn left or right.

However, on holiday in Mallorca this week, I used the feature to plot a route from our hotel, along the coast and home again. I could see that the route ran beside the sea and fully expected a scenic trot along a well trodden coastal path. The purple lines on the map showed me that other runners had taken the route, so I had no reason to expect it to be anything other than a safe, seaside 5K.

A short while later, however, I found myself on what can only be described as an utterly terrifying, one-wrong-step-to-death, scrabbly, cliff edge.

The cliff edge Strava segment

‘On route’ – my watch confirmed, which meant that I had to go on. Slowing to a walk, I gingerly made my way along the precarious path, thinking how this wouldn’t be allowed in the UK and imagining the ‘holidaying Brit plunges to death’ headlines, followed by the forensic analysis of my ‘Strava over common sense’ foolishness.

At one point, the path narrowed to no wider than a paving slab, with certain death on one side and a couple enjoying the view from their private garden on the other.

Taking the sensible option, I therefore asked the Mallorcans, in my best ‘stupid Englishman’ non-Spanish, whether I could get back to the road through their house. With a wry grin that suggested I wasn’t the first errant runner to ask, the husband waved me into the garden and guided me through his beautiful house and back to the safety of the pavement.

I have never felt so grateful to be back beside a road and, over the remaining few kilometres, I thought back over how close I had been to death and felt an almost overwhelming guilt. How could I have been so stupid to have risked it all? I am so lucky to have such a wonderful family and to think that a Strava segment could have taken me from them, was almost too much to bear.

So, I ran home quicker than I otherwise would have done, in order to see and be with my family, relaxing by the pool.

Once home and showered, and having relayed the story to my wife and children, I then did the only sensible thing I could do under the circumstances. I uploaded the run to Strava, complete with photos!

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