There’s nothing like being 45 minutes into a run on a new route, far from civilization, and feeling the tell-tale gurgle in your intestines signaling the dreaded runner’s trots. Sometimes, Google can come to your aid, but searching for a public restroom while trying not to publically poop your pants is, needless to say, incredibly stressful. So, it’s nice to see that Strava’s quietly added a new feature called Points of Interest that will help users find helpful locations on a given route.
According to a Strava support post, Points of Interest is a feature that adds “community-powered local hotspots” to make outdoor activities like running, cycling, and hiking more enjoyable. These hot spots can include the obvious, like public restrooms and water fountains, as well as cafes, bike shops, photo spots, and other landmarks. The company says that the points are created from areas that are popular with Strava athletes from OpenStreetMap.
“Most maps have been optimized for cars, so we wanted to build a map oriented around athletes rather than vehicles,” Will Meyer, senior product manager for Strava’s Places team, told The Verge.
The idea is to help athletes figure out the best part of an area to start an activity, as well as see where helpful areas might be located. Depending on whether you need a snack, bathroom break, or a place to refill a water bottle, you can now reroute yourself to a relevant area. While all Strava users will be able to see the Points of Interest map layer, subscribers can also create their own routes based around hotspots using the Routebuilder tool on the website or via the Maps tab in the app. There are also suggested Start Points, or popular areas where Strava users begin activities from.
Using Points of Interest is pretty straightforward — though, personally, it was most useful when planning out a route beforehand. (I try not to look at my phone while running, lest I run headfirst into a lamp post.) We’ll have to see how useful it ends up being when in a pinch. That said, it’s good to see fitness services adding handy navigational and safety tools for users. Aside from a case of runner’s trots, dehydration and “hitting the wall” are also major concerns that can leave runners, cyclists, or hikers in a lurch. This is particularly true for beginners, who may not have invested in a fitness watch with preloaded maps and primarily rely on smartphones. Aside from Strava, Garmin also recently announced its new Fenix 7 smartwatches would also include a similar feature dubbed Up Ahead that highlights aid stations, water, and elevation climbs on a given route.
“Points of Interest has been in development for over five months, and more ways to interact with dynamic POI will be coming later this year, along with a suite of features that complement POI,” Meyer added. “We’re just getting started with how athletes can engage with points of interest and trailheads on Strava and working to build the best athlete-centric map.”