Six Great Sponsored Challenges to Inspire Your Brand

Time and time again, brands have proven that Strava challenges can form the core of successful, innovative, and exciting brand activations - whether it’s going all out on billboards in major cities, running a pop-up pub, or engaging athletes creatively online.

We often get asked: “can you give me some examples of brands in my vertical running a successful challenge?” so we figured we’d highlight some of our favorites.

But First, A Quick Refresher

Sponsored Challenges are Strava’s product that enables brands to engage active people at scale and motivate them to move. They are built into the athlete experience - rather being a disruptive scroll-past ad. They drive sales, increase brand awareness, and build community. 

Now, onto some examples.

Footwear: New Balance

Who hates free beer?
Answer: nobody.

A run pub, where the only currency accepted is miles run? 

That’s the proposition that New Balance put in front of British runners in 2019 when they ran a series of sponsored segment challenges centered around the London Marathon. Hoping to reach runners of various different distances and skill levels, New Balance challenged UK athletes to run 40 miles in two weeks. 

New Balance went the “extra mile" to ensure the pub really hit home for runners, appropriately named “The RUNAWAY”. Although equipped with a fully stocked bar and a classic pub ambience, New Balance had to give a little twist to the pub. The pub featured a retail area stocked with the latest and coolest New Balance kit, a stretching & workout area, and locker rooms. And for the runners who had the “runs”, the toilets came with blank walls where runners could write encouraging messages for each other. The challenge generated a lot of media attention & off-platform coverage, notably in Runner’s World

Cycling Apparel: Le Col

Setting an Everest-sized bar for marketing excellence

A longtime power user on Strava and – at time of writing – the brand with the largest club, Le Col decided to step up their marketing efforts to deliver an exciting and engaging campaign - the Le Col 8848 Challenge. 

During and after the lockdowns, “Everesting'' took the cycling world by storm, with pro and amateur cyclists alike venturing to ride the height of Mount Everest (8848 meters) on up and down a single hill. 

Le Col challenged athletes to ride 8848 meters over the course of June. If riders completed it in a month, they would receive a hefty discount on a limited edition, premium jersey. And if they were bold enough to tackle it in a single ride, they would receive the jersey for free. As expected, the challenge was wildly successful, with year two driving over 10,000 jersey sales. 

Connected Fitness: Eight Sleep

Eight Sleep is the world’s first sleep fitness company. Leveraging innovation, technology and personal biometrics, Eight Sleep brings its members better sleep and more energy, every morning. Eight Sleep wanted to create relevance, raise brand awareness and generate revenue among active people – one of their key audience segments. 

Recognizing that active people and those who valued athletic performance also valued sleep, Eight Sleep identified Strava as a key channel to activate on.

With their first ever activation on Strava – the Cool Down Challenge – Eight Sleep challenged users across the US to log 120 minutes or more of activity. Athletes who completed this – across a wide range of Strava activities – gained access to 20% off the best-selling Eight Sleep Pod and a chance to win a $5,000 credit for sleep and recovery products on 

With almost 56,000 participants and over 600,000 unique impressions in their first-ever challenge, the brand was pleased with the unique reach, participation and engagement. But the real performance came with a high clickthrough rate following challenge completion, and ultimately, purchases. In fact, just accounting for directly-attributable revenue, this single challenge drove in excess of a 7x return on investment.

You can read more about the challenge here.

Nutrition & Retail: The Feed

Hosting a long-running challenge series on Strava titled “Get Sponsored By the Feed”, online nutrition retailer The Feed challenged athletes to complete roughly 4 hours of exercise over the course of month in exchange for a “sponsorship”, starting with an $60 annual Feed Credit to spend on nutrition (Bars, Gels, Chews, Hydration, Recovery Shakes etc.) to fuel participants’ training needs. Armed with a custom water bottle printer, The Feed awarded finishers with custom water bottles if they purchased over $X worth of product. 

It worked so well, they’ve done it 6 more times! You can read more about it here.

Charities: Mind UK

Mind is a mental health charity providing information and support to millions across England and Wales. Suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 50, so Mind wanted to craft an activation that drove awareness of this. 

Recognizing the link between physical health and mental wellbeing, Mind turned to Strava to craft an engaging Sponsored Challenge to raise funds and awareness – appropriately themed as the 50km for Mental Health. 

The challenge was a massive success, with Mind raising over £70,000 from almost 137,000 participants. Prior to the challenge’s start date, Mind created a Strava club, and over the course of February 2023, it grew by almost 5,000 members.

Apparel: Outdoor Voices

Outdoor Voices makes technical apparel for all kinds of activity, big and small, with the goal of also creating a community of vibrant and varied Recreationalists. 

For them, it’s about doing things for fun and freeing fitness from performance. Looking to engage new audiences of active people, Outdoor Voices turned to Strava to reach walkers, yoga enthusiasts, hikers, casual runners, and everything in between with a very intentional and brand-driven campaign.

With the Move Your Body Challenge, Outdoor Voices challenged the Strava community to get moving for at least four hours over the course of two weeks in March. 

They chose to set a goal that was broad and attainable for people of all levels, but still required effort and consistency. And that’s not all! Outdoor Voices coupled their digital activation with IRL events out of their San Francisco flagship store to bring the brand & activation to life! 

The challenge was a huge success, garnering nearly 100,000 participants, growing their club from scratch to over 4K members, and increasing brand awareness. 


Bicycles: Specialized Asia

As part of the global launch of the new Allez Sprint bicycle, Specialized Asia wanted to promote their new bike in key Asian markets (Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, China, and Japan). 

An industry-leading bike brand, they wanted to increase brand awareness by reaching a wider audience in Asia beyond just high performance cyclists. 

They challenged Strava athletes to ride at least 3 times per week for 3 weeks to win a 20 percent discount, plus a chance to win a new Allez Sprint. To drum up more hype around their activation, they leveraged their roster of all-star cyclists, including Justin Williams and the LEGION crew. 

The campaign was a success, earning a 2.21 ROI and acquiring 116,300 first-time Specialized challenge participants - which is massive for a brand that has had a longtime presence on Strava.

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