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How to run a 5K world record (or make Strava think you did)

A soccer star's Strava mistake led to this hilarious 5K challenge

A couple of weeks ago, the Chelsea FC (a British soccer club) Twitter account posted a photo from midfielder Ross Barkley‘s Strava page which said that he ran 5.2K in 16:11. Some people were skeptical, and after a little research, they found that Barkley’s elapsed time was far longer than his moving time, meaning he’d paused his workout to rest between hard efforts. Running Twitter decided they liked this approach, and the page StravaWankers created the Ross Barkley 5K—a virtual race where pausing your run is encouraged.

Ross Barkley

We don’t have anything against the Chelsea midfielder (although some people on Twitter seem to). He’s obviously a tremendous athlete, and he could probably run a solid (and legal) 5K time if he trained for it. He wasn’t even the one to brag about his time–it was his club’s social media team who showed his result to the rest of the world. Unfortunately for Barkley, his name has been trending for the last week, and the Ross Barkley 5K is the latest virtual race to take the running world by storm.

RELATED: Why now might be the time to get off Strava for a while

The race

The rules of the race (which are listed on the StravaWankers Twitter page) are simple. First, run a 5K “using the sprint/pause technique.” You have until April 30 to complete the 5K and upload it to Strava with the workout title “The Ross Barkley 5K.” Add a description to your new Strava PB and then screenshot the workout and post it on Twitter for StravaWankers and the rest of the running world to see.

So far, there have been some pretty fast times. Since the start of the challenge, Kenenisa Bekele‘s longstanding 5,000m record of 12:37.35 has been smashed by several runners. In fact, some athletes have dipped below the 12-minute barrier, and the current leader—Richard McDowell—beat the 11-minute barrier with a 10:57. McDowell’s fastest kilometre was 2:08 and he averaged 2:11 for the whole run. Sure, his elapsed time was over an hour long, but a sub-11 5K isn’t too shabby, and it looks like he could win the inaugural Ross Barkley virtual race.