Home Tech The best place in line is a race in the middle of the Denver airport

The best place in line is a race in the middle of the Denver airport

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The best place in line is a race in the middle of the Denver airport

there were 2 I’m at Denver International Airport, and Jared Murphy was just a few hours away from a planned 17-hour layover. His options at that quiet hour, in the wide corridors of the esplanade, were practically nil. There wouldn’t be any bites of ahi tartare at Crú Food & Wine Bar for at least another seven hours, and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory’s signature caramel apples had long been put away for the night.

Some may have regarded this overnight interval as a whirlwind of halogen-lit misery. But Murphy, a competitive runner since high school, was an avid user of the fitness app Strava and often checked the app while he traveled to see where locals liked to run. In particular, he sought segments– User-generated trails, often with notable features (a particularly difficult climb, for example) where you can compete to have the best time and be crowned king or queen of the mountain.

Sitting in Terminal B, Murphy opened Strava on his phone and searched for a segment at the airport. “Sure enough,” he recalls, the map showed some of the telltale orange icons.

Even better: I was excited to find a segment right where I was. Was called “Gate Shift Gnar,” a straight run of nearly 500 feet past the aforementioned dining options and eight gates. Murphy could see that the current record holder had a time of 22 seconds. Respectable, but not blindingly fast. Of course, the country’s third-busiest airport is usually packed with travelers; Running carries a significant risk of a high-speed crash with some exhausted traveler towing an Airstream-sized rollaboard.

But given the time, and it was June 2020, Murphy was literally the only person in the entire Terminal B. “I can’t resist a good segment when it’s there,” he says. Although he took some time off due to a nagging calf injury, he headed to the start line.

Strava serves as a community hub for more than 100 million users. About 250 of them have run Gate Change Gnar. It started as part of someone’s “airport walk” on October 10, 2012, a leisurely 86-second stroll. Sorting has gotten faster since then. Now someone tests the segment every few days. The possibility of earning the title of king of the mountain makes Strava a useful conduit for an athlete’s amphetamine energy production, even in the most unlikely of circumstances.

That night, in the dark Denver terminal, Murphy, who was wearing a pair of Hokas at the time, claimed the course record in 19 seconds. He then bagged a couple more before heading to the couches in Terminal A to get some sleep.

Tyler Swartz is another Strava user who addressed the issue. He is the founder of running endorphins, a startup that organizes group runs in a handful of American cities. During a snowstorm in March, around 9:30 p.m., he ran the segment a half-dozen times after missing a connecting flight. It was impromptu entertainment for an otherwise grumpy crowd. “I would high-five people,” she says. “There were little kids running around with me. “Some people recognized me from TikTok.” He has more than 43,000 followers. An Instagram reel of his sprints has 380,000 views.

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