When it comes to social training sites, Strava and Garmin Connect are the Yankees and Red Sox. In the same league, with a history as bitter rivals.
On Monday, Strava and Garmin Connect announced a partnership in the form of one-way data sharing. Riders using Garmin Connect can upload rides directly to Strava, as well as MapMyFitness sites MapMyRun and MapMyRide and Endomondo, another fitness and ride tracker. The partnership is the result of Garmin Connect opening up its API (think of it as a back door to Connect’s databases) to Strava, MapMyFitness, and Endomondo.
Both Strava and Garmin Connect are designed to capture ride data and share it with the world. Strava has millions of segments on its site, and has a following in the cycling world that Garmin Connect can’t yet hold a candle to. Garmin has a leg up as the undisputed top name in GPS-enabled cycling computers, and has been trying to compete online, introducing segments on Garmin Connect and launching a head unit, the Edge 1000, designed for chasing its Garmin Connect segments.
Today’s scorecard shows Strava dozens of runs ahead of Garmin Connect in the realm of online ride-sharing and comparing. But Strava relies on the GPS maker to record athletes’ activities, and both brands need the other to survive. Up until now, though, there was no cohesion between the two.
Garmin Connect announced a similar partnership with TrainingPeaks two months ago. Garmin Connect keeps its API closed, only allowing its partners access to it, usually for a fee. This wasn’t always the case, though. Garmin closed off its API earlier this year, around the time it launched the Edge 1000 — a headunit designed for racing Garmin Connect’s segments. The closed API and the new head unit was seen as an attempt to overtake Strava’s stranglehold on social training in cycling.
This new partnership is entirely one-way. Garmin Connect users can link their accounts on the Strava website, and then all rides uploaded to Garmin Connect will go directly to Strava. Strava is not sending rides uploaded in its site back to Garmin Connect. So, it would seem that the major winner here is Strava, and of course riders who use a Bluetooth-enabled Garmin device, like the Edge 510, 810, and 1000.
Further cooperation between Garmin and Strava is in no way guaranteed, but given the symbiotic nature of the relationship, it would not come as a surprise.