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  • About VJ
  • June 28, 2024 5 min read

    Ahhhh, the local legend Laurel wreath. A symbol that among runners tends to bring up a lot of indifference, jokes, and some whatever/consolation prize vibes. 

    The local legend just had a birthday, three years running as of this July. A COVID baby. For anyone who doesn’t know (or care) what this is (oh and there are many, but we will get to this later) per Strava.com “The Local Legend (LCL) achievement is awarded to the athlete who completes a given segment the most over a rolling 90-day period regardless of pace or speed. The LCL achievement will be awarded on run, ride, walk, hike, alpine/backcountry/nordic ski, and snowboard segments.”

    The jokes about this feature came fast and furious almost immediately and continue over 3 years later.

    I'm going to look at a few things here. Who does this function benefit? Is this something that is needed? What has the impact been on the running community and safety?

    Why did this happen?

    So, I am a very average runner when it comes to running fast. I have my moments, but I like to just kind of do my own thing. I never really push myself to go faster than I’m comfortable with. I have never really messed with trying to go fast on Strava segments, to try to beat everyone on them and to get a crown. If I ever get a crown, which is getting 1st place on a Strava segment, it’s usually some obscure one in the middle of nowhere that I just happened to be at and got in a random run.

    This results in World War 3 the next day with some 20-year-old strapping on vaporflys and pummeling the shit out of my time. Graphic but that’s the grim reality. If winning segments is your thing, cool, I’ve just never been into it.

    When many races were cancelled during the peak of COVID, segments where I live were like a warzone. Many people with Fastest Known Times were just battling for something to do, with the lack of race options, and, for people who didn’t want to pay for virtual race options; it was a great use of time and a way to continue pushing yourself. The way the local legend feature was rolled out was as an option for people like me who don’t wish to participate in chasing crowns and stats involving speed to still do battle on Strava by not having to run fast but just doing the segment the most.

    Do people like this?

    I’ve had this discussion for years in run clubs that I belong to, with friends, and people who work in run specialty and asked if they cared about the local legend feature.  Most expressed indifference and lots of jokes were tossed. I heard the phrase “participation trophy” a lot but also some legitimate conversation. The majority though straight up do not care.

    Some even say it’s “dumb.” I think my friend Nicole Weidensaul summed it up best where I am at on it by saying “I don't care, but it's fun when my friends and I take the Local Legend status from each other. We joke about it but none of us really care one way or the other. Messing around with friends, it is hilarious”. It is crazy fun messing with friends on social media. There are a few segments that I would actually consider buying a shirt that says “I own the segment” (yes, that’s a thing). Also, I love for my friends to get that annoying email Strava sends out saying I took the Local Legend from them. It’s amazing.

    A stalker’s dream

    So this is a very unfun side of this feature that I hadn’t even thought of until my friend Kim Herring brought it to my attention. “Yeah, we had a few segments in my neighborhood that were fun, and I did find it humorous when I'd get them doing Capital Backyard ultra training (I ran 50 miles in loops around the Manassas Battlefield and briefly held a title).  I don't have any real sense of care whether I lose them, but it can be fun when you know the other people stealing them.  I wish I could do it without having my entire Strava public.”

    Kim saying that got me curious, so I looked up exactly what you needed to qualify to for local legend status. Public activities ONLY will count towards the local legend achievement. This makes total sense because the local legend is a visible person. Others need to know how many activities they need to become the local legend and so on. I discussed this further with Kim and she told me “Yeah, but I don't want my full activities public."  That was the issue.  "Someone near my house whom I had never met knew my running history because he saw my Strava.  I had no idea who he was.  Never met him.  Never saw him.  He was a ‘lurker’ online.  Creepy AF”.

    My girlfriend says that if she gets a local legend that it is a reminder she needs to change up her running routine because she is running the same route too often and there can be people physically present out there on her route that are taking notice, as well as people online who know where you are running often. 

    So, when chasing crowns on Strava you can make it a random outing and harder for a stalker to guess your routine. The local legend feature gives a stalker a better idea of when you will be at a certain segment because you have to constantly be at the segment to gain and keep it. Definitely a tough part of the feature and unfortunate. Strava was trying to make something very inclusive, but this makes it hard to participate if you have privacy concerns. 

    Legacy in the meme world

    If you have not seen any Local Legend memes, do it immediately. Go to @yaboyscottjurek and get ready to laugh. My favorite meme that yaboyscottjurek did used Antonio Banderas playing a hitman in the movie Assassins. It sums up everything about this feature perfectly.

    When I asked about this meme yaboyscottjurek replied “I honestly can’t remember what inspired the meme. I think that clip has been floating around for a bit and local legend seemed like a good take on it. I like the idea of people being super stoked on being the local legend of some random trail segment”.

    That’s exactly what gets me to wonder if there’s some dude out there who’s legitimately 100 mph about becoming the local legend.

    Are there people out there that love this feature?

    As yaboyscottjurek mentioned, the idea of someone jacked up getting some random trail segment, is just hilarious. I feel like most people who get the local legend post about it ironically or, as mentioned previously, joke around about it with friends.

    I fully believe Strava had the right idea making something that anyone who runs can obtain but there are security issues and many people just feel indifferent.

    I do feel like there are coveted segments like really shitty mountain segments, hills, areas exposed to the sun, smelly segments, crime ridden and dangerous ones that people would be impressed if you hold but is having the Laurel wreath worth it?

    I feel like the absolute best part of this feature is the friend element.

    Look up friends of yours that are nearby local legends and take it from them then tag them in a Facebook post with a screen shot of the email saying you took the Local Legend from them. It’s amazing. 

    If you believe you hold the most local legend segments I want you to message me on IG and tell me why you like this feature so much and if you legitimately get fired up like Antonio Banderas. I want to discuss this topic with you. I feel like you are out there. Message me!!!

    -John Calabrese @breezytrailhead