In case you haven’t noticed, we’re big fans of data around here. For example, I was thrilled when I discovered RunGap a few weeks ago and was finally able to consolidate all of my running/triathlon data from the past eight years onto a single platform. When it comes to race result data, however, I don’t want to be scrolling through years of workouts to find race entries, and although services like Garmin Connect give you quick access to activities in which you set PR’s, there are times when I want to view data for a race that wasn’t necessarily my fastest. Because of this, for the past few years, I’ve been using Athlinks, a website dedicated to finding and compiling all of your race results. The Athlinks database includes results from running, swimming, triathlon, cycling, mountain biking, and more events. They rely on race directors to send results files or links that are then uploaded by the Athlinks team. Users can also submit races to the results queue, meaning that the more active users it has, the better it gets (hint, hint!). Until now, we’ve waited to share anything about Athlinks, because it was pretty buggy when we first found it. In the last couple of years, though, the platform has gone through some significant redesign(s) and updates in functionality that have made it one of my must-use services.
Using the Athlinks platform is as easy as creating a free account and then claiming your race results from a list generated by a search of their database for your name. This may be tricky if you have a very common name, although there is an option to sort by birth year and/or to select results from specific cities. Once you start claiming results, you can view them, as well as statistics for your compiled data, in your profile. By selecting individual race results, you can view a summary of a particular race, including age group/overall rankings and the weather on race day, and it’s fun that Athlinks generates a shareable graphic showing your finish time and, when applicable, pace.
The social aspects of Athlinks are fairly limited and mainly competitive in nature. Not a make or break issue for me, as I’m happy just to have my race data in one place, but if you’re looking for a new social network, this ain’t it. You can search for and follow other athletes, who show up on your profile under Following. If you’ve run any of the same races as someone you are following, they will be listed as a Rival and Athlinks will declare one of you the “Winner” for each race you have in common based on who had the faster finish time. As you can see below, Steve is always the winner between the two of us – duh. There is no news feed that is compiled to display the activities of athletes you follow and no options for “liking” or commenting on individual events — the only way I can see to interact with other athletes, beyond the Rivals comparisons, is via a Messages tab on their profile.
To find new athletes to follow or rivals, Athlinks does display a “You May Know” list, which includes members who have run one or more races “with” you (i.e., they participated in the same race event). Steve, my husband, showed up on this list, but I have yet to recognize any of the other names, as one might expect given that races in my area attract thousands of runners. The only other option in terms of adding friends is to search for them individually by name. A relatively new feature is the ability to add yourself to Start Lists for upcoming races that you plan to participate in. This seems like a promising way to potentially interact with other athletes, but I haven’t been able to find a race that actually has a “Start List” available to add to my profile.
Before I wrap up, I should note that everything above is regarding my experience using the Athlinks website, but they also have an app for iOS and Android available. I downloaded it on my iPhone and was able to log in to view all of my data, found it easy to search for events and athletes, and could view the profiles of athletes I’m following. Interestingly, the app provides an option to give a “heart” or comment on individual race results, unlike the website! While it works well for me, I do want to point out that the app gets pretty abysmal reviews on the Apple App Store (2.2/5 stars), with users citing problems with logging in, claiming race results (or un-claiming incorrect ones in some cases), and missing results, among other things. The app can apparently also function as a way for spectators to track you during a race, but there are many negative reviews about the accuracy/functionality of that feature, as well.
Overall, as a platform to consolidate race data, Athlinks has come a long way. I enjoy using it and will continue to do so. As a social platform, they are limited by low membership, and it’s a bit confusing as to why there are additional social features on the app that aren’t available on the website. I’m fine with them choosing to go light on the social aspects – after all, it’s the race data that’s most important – but, it is a bit frustrating that I have many friends with race results that show up on Athlinks, but I can’t follow them because they aren’t members. Allowing people to invite, search for, and add Facebook or other social network friends (Twitter, Instagram, etc.) would go a long way to boost the overall popularity of the website and make it more fun to use. For now, I hope that all of you will consider signing up and will encourage your race friends to sign up, as well!
Meagan is a geochemistry research lab manager, runner, Netflix binge-watcher, and Mom to a rescue dog, a bunny, and a human child. She started running in May 2011 and ran her first half marathon in October 2012, followed by her first marathon in October 2013. In July 2018, she joined the triathlon world and completed an Olympic-distance race. After an extended break (pregnancy/maternity leave), she is making a long-overdue return to running and is preparing for a high-elevation half marathon at Crater Lake National Park in August 2020.