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5 people who showed why you shouldn’t lie on Strava

Someone's going to catch you, so just be honest

Photo by: Katherine Welch/Strava

Strava’s supposed to be a fun place where runners, cyclists and other athletes can go to share their workouts and see the training their friends are doing. The app gets annoying when you start to see people who clearly lied about a run, and the thing is, it’s pretty easy to determine when someone’s cheating. You’re normally a click or two away from figuring out just how someone ran so quickly, so there’s really no reason for Strava users to even try to lie. In case you need more convincing that cheating on Strava isn’t a good call, here are five times users posted false or misleading workout data (on purpose or by accident) and got caught right away. 

Ross Barkley’s 5K 

Last April, a British soccer player on Chelsea FC named Ross Barkley posted a run on Strava. On the surface, it looked like a really stellar time, and the Chelsea social media team even posted about it on Twitter. His post said he ran 5.2K in 16:11, which works out to an average pace of 3:03 per kilometre.

That’s a quick run, but after some other Strava users looked a bit deeper, they saw that his elapsed time (meaning the entire time he was out for the run, even when he paused the workout on the app) was way longer than his moving time. It was unfortunate, because Barkley is clearly a tremendous athlete, and he probably didn’t mean to post a blatant lie. Remember, people, we can see how long your workout lasted, not just how long you were actually moving. 

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

Tom Pidcock’s world record 

British pro cyclist Tom Pidcock made headlines across the running and cycling worlds in February after he posted a 5K to Strava. Unlike Barkley’s run, Pidcock’s elapsed time was the same as his moving time, meaning he didn’t hit pause during his workout. Even so, many people were upset with Pidcock, as it was quite clear that he hadn’t run as quickly as the app said. 

He claimed to have run 5K in a ridiculously fast time of 13:25. For context, that’s just five seconds slower than the British 5K record of 13:20, and it’s five seconds faster than four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah‘s 5K road PB. While Pidcock’s Strava file didn’t have any timing discrepancies, it was clear the app had glitched out, and the GPS file even looked wonky. While we’re willing to give Barkley the benefit of the doubt, it’s tough to do the same for Pidcock, who uses Strava on a regular basis and can probably tell when the file is messed up. 

RELATED: Pro cyclist and casual runner drops mind-blowing 5K in 13:25

This marathoner

Yet again, we’ve got a case in which someone’s lie was discovered because of Strava’s elapsed time feature. This Strava user, Ryan, decided to go for a run around London, and he claimed to have run a huge marathon PB of 2:39:51. “We have done it!” Ryan wrote on Strava. “3:34 in 2019 and 2:39 in 2021.” This would have been massive improvement, except it turns out Ryan actually recorded an elapsed time of 2:55. 

The thing is, this is still a great marathon time, and he shaved more than half an hour off his previous best. We hope someone told him about the mixup, otherwise he’ll be sorely disappointed when he shows up to his next race and finishes well behind his inaccurate PB.

A downhill runner 

Just like your followers can check your elapsed time, they can also note your elevation gain or loss in a run. This person was caught bending the truth a bit (but not lying outright) saying they ran five miles (8K) in 30:39, smashing their previous best of 33:10. They even noted that they ran this quickly while running into a headwind. There was just one issue: they ran downhill basically the whole way. As their Strava file shows, they lost a whopping 523 feet of elevation in their five-mile run. So, yeah, they still ran that time, but gravity helped a bit. 

Accidental runners 

This last group of people is innocent most of the time, as the mistake they make is almost always an accident. Sometimes runners will start recording a bike ride without realizing they selected the run option on Strava. The results are often pretty obviously flawed, with some “runners” cruising through 50K in two hours. This is a world record, and you’ll probably get called out for it on Strava. Don’t worry, it’s a quick fix to switch it back to a run. 

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