Meet the unknown man who creates ‘Strava artwork’ by running around Edinburgh

An enigmatic runner has spent his lockdown months running routes along Edinburgh’s streets that map the outlines of extraordinary animals on the exercise-tracking app, Strava.

“I don't just do animals. I ran a treble clef last year, too,” explained the runner, known only as Peter.

Since then, the anonymous 31-year-old from Liberton has quietly drawn a giraffe, a unicorn, and a snail - all by running carefully thought-out routes through the Capital’s maze of streets, while the Strava app tracks his movements.

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How does he do it?

An enigmatic runner has spent his lockdown months running routes along Edinburgh’s streets that map the outlines of extraordinary animals on the exercise-tracking app, Strava.

“Once I've decided on a recognisable animal, I plan a route on both Google and ‘onthegomap’.

But planning the route on his phone isn’t enough for Peter to be certain he can pull it off.

“If there are bits that I'm uncertain on, or places I think I'm likely to mess up, then I'll incorporate it into a reccy run,” he explained.

“Both the unicorn and the giraffe were revised several times,” he said, “and the number of spots and their locations changed on the giraffe.

“People especially seem to like that the giraffe has spots,” Peter said.

“The mane and tail both changed on the unicorn - the tail became bushier, the mane gained layers.

‘Reddit has been really positive’

After perfecting the treble clef drawing, Peter moved on to work on a snail - complete with a spiral shell. Things quickly gained pace.

“I basically planned the giraffe as soon as I'd run the snail,” he said.

“I don't just do animals. I ran a treble clef last year, too,” explained the runner, known only as Peter.

When he posted photos of his creations on Reddit, the reviews were spectacular.

“Reddit was really positive,” he said.

His drawing of a giraffe is the third most popular post on the Edinburgh topic page.

“One thing I like about running is that you can run somewhere different every time, and can run and see new bits of the city.”

“The mane and tail both changed on the unicorn - the tail became bushier, the mane gained layers.

How the giraffe got his spots

“People especially seem to like that the giraffe has spots,” Peter said.

“I did think about putting spots in the body, but the roads in the Grange weren't so accommodating as those in Newington.

“The three smallest spots are loops of St Patrick's Square, Nicholson Square and that small loop of road at the end of West Crosscauseway.

“Running a loop around them feels a bit silly, but not as silly as doing the horns of the giraffe did!

“I must have ran past the same man four times. I don't know what he must have thought of me,” he joked.

‘PE was definitely not my thing at school’

Despite his undeniable skill, Peter is not a natural sportsperson.

“PE was definitely not my thing at school.

“I made it more a part of my routine since I moved to Edinburgh in 2017.

“My partner, who I met not long after arriving here, was a runner, and I thought, if they can do it, why can't I?

“I saw an article about Strava art, and thought, I could try that,” he added, “it's a good way to mix up your running routes.

“It was good to use it to get outside in lockdown.

So could a new festive design be on the cards?

“That's an excellent idea,” he said.

“A reindeer would be clearly recognisable, but the horns will be tricky to find on the map.

“But I can definitely give it a go.”

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