A few cyclists completed all of Strava's riding Challenges in 2013, and a handful of runners knocked out every run Challenge on the social fitness website. But only one man, Scotsman Calum MacDonald, completed all of both, racking up more than 8,000 miles and 380,000 vertical feet in the process.
Strava Challenges are distance-based goals that users can achieve by uploading GPS files of their rides anywhere in the world to Strava.com. Some Challenges are single-day events like the current 130km Gran Fondo 2. Others are multi-day, such as the Rapha Festive 500, a challenge of riding 500km over eight days. Last spring, the Classics Climbing Challenge from Specialized set a vertical challenge of 35,104ft over 47 days. Tens of thousands of people participate.
In all, there were 36 Strava Challenges in 2013. And MacDonald completed every last one.
Just a few of the Challenges MacDonald completed in 2013
MacDonald told BikeRadar that while he has been cycling for years, he only got serious in 2012 after signing up for the Deloitte Ride Across Britain, which covered the length of the UK, 980 miles, in nine days.
"I wasn't particularly fit when I signed up as you will see if you look at my very first Strava uploads so I had to start training pretty hard," MacDonald said. "I was out on one of my first training rides when two riders caught up with me and invited me to join them. They began to talk about Strava and I thought it sounded great so as soon as I got home I made an account."
MacDonald said the idea to do all of the Challenges came up as he was doing the Festive 500 towards the end of 2012.
"It was the first challenge I had really persevered with and I just thought why not carry that effort through the whole of 2013?" he said. "I initially wasn't interested in the running challenges but when the first marathon series was released I decided to test myself even though my longest run was previously only eight miles. I just continued to test myself throughout the year and once I got to a certain point, six or seven months into it, there was no way I was going to give up. I had to see it through."
MacDonald and his trusty steed
In all, MacDonald rode 7,352 miles and ran nearly 689 miles during 2013. He climbed 31,611 vertical feet while running, and some 350,607 feet on the bike. He also did a 300-mile ride in 24 hours — from Newcastle upon Tyne to London — just because. He did the great majority of his miles on a 2012 Specialized Roubaix.
MacDonald credits Strava — "the social aspects of it, the leaderboards and viewing your own personal times on a segment board" — with helping him become a more accomplished rider and runner. "I'm looking forward to seeing how much I can improve again in 2014,” he said, adding that anyone can improve with the right motivation. “Set your goals a little higher, push yourself to your limits and you'll be amazed at what you can achieve.”