New Challenge Type: Street efficiency challenge

I was rueing that in the near future I may have to cut back on my CityStriding activity because of the time it takes just to get to my closest unfinished territory. Even if I was to/from commute to new areas to stride, that still takes time. So what are ways we can keep the fun of CityStrides “sustainable” for users like me who have exhausted their communities of new terrain?

Unrelatedly, other users have previously put forth the idea of an efficiency metric for who can finish a city with the lowest mileage or number of activities. I don’t really like this idea for an entire city (ppl CityStride in different ways, not everyone is focused on efficiency), but what if there was a new type of city-specific challenge that did prioritize that?

My idea is inspired by a scavenger-hunt-style-race I did in Boston in 2021 where we all started at the same starting point and were told to run to different landmarks around downtown without use of our phones or GPS. It was a lot of fun and super challenging, and since we were all doing it at the same time; tactically, if you didn’t know where to run, you could try to keep up with another runner that seemed to know where they were going. After checking in at each landmark, there were prizes for the first one back to the starting point and the person who ran the shortest & most efficient route overall between the landmarks.

Linking that with CityStrides: each month, in your home city, CityStrides would create a challenge for you and all other striders that have set that home city. The challenge would use some sort of randomizer to select X streets (5-10?) that must be completed in a single activity, and the goal is to complete the activity in either the shortest time (fast runners!) or shortest distance (smart planners!). There might have to be some code to optimize not picking roads too far away or too close to one another, to make the challenge scaled to a certain distance benchmark like ~10-15 km.

OK that’s the gist of it, random additional thoughts: Maybe it’s too technically difficult to randomize within those parameters, or for all striders…but maybe not? Striders interested in these challenges could ‘sign up’ to participate, or could have a beta phase only open to paid users to see how it goes. Long-term, there could be badges for completing the challenges and more prestigious badges for winners. Because of the local aspect of it, competitiveness would really only be in cities with a critical mass of striders interested in this sort of thing, but there’s more than a handful of cities around the globe where that would be the case; and in the ones with fewer striders like where I’m at, it would still be a fun new thing to achieve every month. Finally, because it’s a slight departure from the normal CityStrides goals of racking up streets and completing cities, it could attract new users who aren’t as driven by those goals. For instance, I have a runner friend here in Lisboa who is a segment hound on Strava but haven’t been able to get him on CityStrides, I think this would really intrigue him!

As you can see this is not a fully fleshed idea, so I’d be happy to hear if others have thoughts or anything to add.

More thoughts:

-On a competitive level, you wouldn’t want other challengers to be able to see your route. So users participating in the challenge could flag the activity as part of a challenge and it would be ‘blinded’ to other competitors for the duration of the challenge. They can see the distance/time it took, but not the GPX trace.

-Maybe some challenges would be ‘too easy’ to converge on a hyper-efficient route with route builder, but not necessarily…after all, we’ve discussed the Traveling Salesman Problem here in the past. Regardless, another level of complexity would be to actually develop a scavenger hunt-style version of this where the streets are only revealed iteratively in real time, but that would be much harder to code and develop, whereas I think the idea as written above could conceivably ‘fit’ within the existing CityStrides infrastructure.

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