I running most mornings, usually doing the same boring loop of the neighborhood every time. But today I found myself in a nearby park, scanning a map, figuring out the best strategy to capture the most tiles for my team. i was playing a game called Stride, and I could see it getting addicting.
The app is free (for basic functionality) on ios and Android, and the game mechanics are as follows: The world is divided into hexagonal tiles, and wWherever you run (or walk or travel in a wheelchair), you can claim a tile. If your route takes you as a closed loop, you also get the tiles in the center of that loop. Each tile is’possesses’ by whoever visited it the most times.
If you like playing for KOM (King of the Mountain) bragging rights on Strava, you might enjoy Stride for her different flavor of the competition. The difference is that Stride tiles are earned by the number of visits, not by speed — you may be the slowest runner, but if you hike the same park trail every day, it can be yours.
What it’s like to play Stride
The game is new, at least in my area. As I open the map I can see that most of the hex tiles are unclaimed except for clusters here and there: the departmental park, a few random neighborhoods. Everyone is part of the red team, like me (you can change teams at any time the time you want, but the app said Team Red needs members, so here I am.)
My first thought was to use the app on my usual morning run, but it starts and ends with me. Unlike Strava, which lets you record public or private activity, Stride focuses on the public map. Therefore I went to the park instead.
One of my favorite running spots at the park was unclaimed so I headed there. You see the tiles you claim as you run, so instead of just going on autopilot and navigating the usual loop, I was careful when I was at the edge of a tile. Sometimes I might claim an extra hex when going down a side road or by choosing a longer trail instead of a shortcut. After a three kilometer jaunt, I was the proud owner of 10 previously unclaimed tiles.
Not satisfied, I got back into my car and set my sights on a large piece of tiles belonging to a teammate named Mangler. I parked in unclaimed territory and ran to the tiles he owned. I picked up a few, then I stood by the side of the road and finished my run so I could see the results. I had caught five Mangler tiles and had also captured five new ones. The stolen tiles now each had a ranking for two people: Mangler and I had visited them once, but I was the winner since I had done so more recently. (Mangler probably got a notification about this, so we’ll see if they head over to soon to take them back.)
Determined to protect my new territory, I restarted the app. I had before noticed that on a round trip I only had one credit for one visit per tile, even though I had crossed it twice. So I started a new race before returning to my car, and as a result, recorded two visits to some of the tiles. The more visits, the more secure my classification.
And in the end, even if Mangler reclaims his territory, at least I know I helped my team by capturing some extra tiles for us.
Technical aspects of the game Stride
If you have a Garmin device, you’re in luck: the Stride app can import the races you follow. with the Garmin. It does not sync with other apps or devices (like Apple Watch) as far as I know, so When I went out for a run, I had to activate the Stride app and let it follow me.
The map was difficult to understand at first – i a m on the red team, but all colored tiles were blue or green. It turns out that there is a map view for teams (in which the territory of the red team is red) and another for individuals (in which my tiles are green and everyone else’s are blue) .
You can play the game without purchasing a subscription, but the detailed leaderboards and team stats are only available to members (becoming one will get you running $ 8.99 / month or $ 44.99 / year). If the game becomes popular in your area, coordinating with teammates to capture territory could be a fun way to plan your runs and keep in touch with other runners.