Sponsored Challenges: The Ultimate Guide

What is a Strava Challenge?

Sponsored Challenges empower brands to craft activations that engage, excite, and drive long-term business outcomes.

Unlike traditional digital marketing campaigns, challenges are seamlessly integrated to the Strava experience and enhance the user experience. It’s a form of native advertising that genuinely benefits our users, rather than being yet another annoying ad to tap right past.

At its basic level, a Sponsored Challenge involves a brand incentivizing Strava athletes to take part in an activity – for example, walking 50km in a month – in return for a reward (in most cases, a discount, coupon or prize).

Which industries typically run challenges?

Sponsored Challenges are generally reserved for brands with a connection to sport, wellness, and nutrition (what we call  "endemic brands".) The reason for this restriction is to keep the user experience on Strava as non-interruptive and authentic as possible.

Below are some categories and associated brands we've worked with. This list is, of course, only a very small sample of the brands and industries who have created Sponsored Challenges.

Broadly speaking, any brand with a genuine connection to an active lifestyle – either through their products, audience or campaigns – can run a challenge in principle.

Apparel: Lululemon, GOREWEAR, The North Face, Rapha

Footwear: Brooks, HOKA, Salomon

Gear & Bikes: Trek, Specialized, Oakley, Camelbak, Swix

Non-endemic Race Sponsors: BMW, Mercedes Benz, Tissot, Schneider Electric

Nutrition: Gu, Clif Bar, Gatorade

Travel: Tourism Switzerland

Retail: Wiggle, REI, Backcountry.com

What kind of audience can I target?

Whether you’re a global cycling apparel brand aiming to reach cyclists all over the world or a small activewear brand trying to build awareness in a local market first, you can segment your audience with ease on Strava.

To that end, we enable you to target your audience by sport type, gender, and geographic region. 

The structure of Strava Challenge targeting


Gender targeting is useful if your product or service caters to a particular gender. For example, if you are a female activewear brand or a mens’ deodorant brand, it may be useful to target a specific gender.

Sport Type

In terms of sport type targeting, we enable brands to target runners, cyclists, multisport athletes, or a combination of those. 

How do we classify someone as a runner or cyclist?

If 80 percent or more of a user’s activities are runs, they are classified as a runner (likewise, for ‘cyclists’). Multisport athletes are those users who do not have one specific sport comprising 80 percent of their uploads.

We often see brands that cater to a specific sport include ‘multisport’ in their targeting along with their primary sport market in order to maximize their reach.

Geographic region

Whether you’re looking to run a global campaign, or just build awareness in a local market, we can help you reach the right audience. You can select as many countries as you would like to run a global campaign. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we can provide state and city-based targeting, although these would need to meet a minimum user threshold.

What types are available?

Challenges come in six different engaging formats: distance, duration, cumulative, elevation, streak, and segment challenges.

Strava challenge types

Distance & Duration Challenges

Distance & duration challenges are the most commonly selected challenge options. These formats require participants to complete a certain distance or amount of time over a given period in order to complete a challenge.

Challenging athletes to complete 2-3 hours of exercise in a week is a tried and tested recipe for large-scale participation.

Example duration challenge

Streak Challenges

Example streak challenge

Streak challenges require participants to complete a given number of activities per week for a certain number of weeks. Streak challenges are best for challenges where the marketing theme is around consistency. 

Elevation Challenges

Distance & duration challenges are the most commonly selected challenge options. These formats require participants to complete a certain distance or amount of time over a given period in order to complete a challenge. 

Segment Challenges

Segment challenges are a format designed to activate hyperlocal audiences. Athletes must complete a defined Strava segment, usually under 1 mile in length.

Segment challenges are a great way to build brand awareness in key local markets and drive traffic to local retailers. They can be coupled with community events at a local outlet or other partner store.

The North Face OOH promotion of their challenge campaign

They are also perfect for race and event-focussed activations. Use Segment Challenges to tie your brand to an in-person event to combine digital and IRL activations. For examples of how this can work, see the creative above from The North Face, and an award winning campaign on Strava from Samsung UK.

How can they help me reach my goals?

Your challenge goal should be reflective of the audience you are trying to reach. Brands looking to reach more casual athletes tend to set much lower goals in order to drive more completions.

On the other hand, brands whose customers tend to be committed athletes often set more lofty challenge goals - as they know their target audience is comprised of athletes likely to hit this goal.

Your marketing campaign needs to speak to the audience you are trying to reach, and a well-chosen challenge goal is a key part of that.

Whether your campaign’s goal is brand awareness, lead generation, or driving sales - athletes still need to complete your challenge to go through our challenge completion mechanic – resulting in a prompt to claim a reward on a partner brand's site.

Strava challenge completion
Challenge completion notification

It's therefore critical that you set the challenge goal accordingly. Make it too hard, and you risk missing out on valuable joins & completions - negatively impacting lead collection & reward redemption in turn.

Make it too easy, and you may not get the most effective results. 

Landing pages

When Strivers complete a challenge, they are prompted to visit a partner’s external page to claim their reward. 

It’s crucial that you create a well optimized page to help you achieve your conversion objectives (if applicable) from any challenge completions. 

This might include:

  • Email signups
  • Purchases
  • Social follows
Hoka landing page example

How much do Challenges cost?

Challenge pricing is based on three key factors: potential reach, season, and duration of the challenge. Challenges start at a minimum of $30,000, though discounted rates exist for charities and other non-profits. 


The potential reach of your campaign is determined by your targeting factors - so geography, gender, and sport type. 


Seasonality plays a role in this as well. Challenges run in the spring and summer tend to be priced higher than late fall and winter ones.


You can run a challenge for one day all the way up to one month. The longer your challenge runs for, the higher it is priced.


Brands that run sponsored challenges have 84 percent greater brand recognition on Strava than brands that do not, so investing in recurring sponsored challenges is crucial for maintaining brand awareness and loyalty. 

How do users discover challenges?

Strava users find challenges from in-feed promotion or from browsing our challenge gallery.

When people they follow join a challenge, they might be notified on the feed, creating a viral loop.

Users do not need to be members of your club or otherwise part of your audience to see or join your challenge.

Partners can also choose to promote challenges via custom emails and in-feed units. These can target users before, during, or after a challenge, depending on the objective.

Milestone callout

As users work toward completing the challenge, they promote it to their followers through milestone and achievement callouts.


Strava provides a huge potential audience, but combining our native platform promotion with your other channels and ambassadors can supercharge your results.

We’ve worked with clients to promote their challenges on other diverse channels including OOH, paid and organic social, and email.

Off-platform promotion of Strava challenges

Sponsored athletes

If you're a brand that directly sponsors athletes, when you host a challenge, make sure your brand ambassadors join! Their audience will see that they joined the challenge in their feed and be motivated to join them (using the network effect mechanisms we mentioned earlier). 

Encourage your athletes to tie activities to sponsored challenges and share to other networks to drive incremental joins and value for your brand.

How do Strava clubs and challenges work together?

Combining your challenges, athlete ambassadors, and clubs is the most effective strategy for driving awareness on Strava.

This approach creates a virtuous circle for your brand and your engagement. 

When you run a challenge, you’re not just achieving short-term campaign outcomes. You’re investing in a community that you can engage with — for the long haul.

With each successive challenge, you grow your Strava club audience substantially. Your Strava club is your brand’s home on Strava, that you can tap into forever and for free.

By engaging with your club, you are reactivating the community you’ve built and unlocking long-term growth and brand loyalty.

During Q4 2021, challenges on Strava helped to boost a number of clubs. Clubs running challenges have above average club member numbers, engagement, post interaction, weekly growth and posts per day.

For example, brands activating via Strava challenges witnessed 1.5x the level of weekly audience growth compared to brands that didn't.

How do I find out more?

Get in touch! Our team will work with with you to establish if your target audience is aligned with Strava and to see how we can help you achieve your goals. Our team works with a wide variety of brands, industries and objectives, and can help you create an effective campaign from scratch.

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