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Stalked on Strava: Wife's creepy encounter inspires crime author

Stalked on Strava: Bestselling crime writer Peter James reveals his wife’s creepy encounter on running app inspired his new thriller I Follow You

  •  Peter James’s latest novel is loosely based around his wife Lara’s experiences
  •  41-year-old waved at a man once and then noticed him running same routes 
  •  The man also started running at same time as her in Woodmancote, Brighton
  • Peter, 71, said it should serve as warning about how much people share online 

A bestselling crime writer revealed his wife’s creepy encounter on running app Strava was the inspiration for his new thriller I Follow You. 

Peter James’s latest novel draws upon his wife Lara’s experience while running when a man she waved at on a run once began running the same places as her at the same times. 

The 41-year-old marathon runner told her husband about the odd encounters around their home in Woodmancote, near Brighton, in 2017 and when she checked her Strava account she discovered the man she waved at had occasionally run the exact same route as her. 

Peter James, 71, took inspiration form his wife Lara’s experiences when running. In 2017, the 41-year-old marathon runner realised a man was often running the same routes as her 

Running app Strava, which has more than 50 million users,  allows people to upload GPS information about their routes 

She told the Sunday Times: ‘I thought this could be really dangerous if that guy was awful or a stalker.

‘It wouldn’t take much before you could look up someone’s patterns of when they run, where they live, when they’re away.’ 

The running tracker Strava has more than 50 million users, many of which upload GPS information about their exercise onto the app to help fellow users identify good running routes.

Although the app gives people the option to keep their information private, the default settings make all new users’ data available to others. 

A similar incident happened to Mrs James, who is now fearful when running, especially at night, when she and her husband moved to Jersey in 2018. 

While she was running on the seafront she said ‘hi’ to a man who told her he was training for a marathon before continuing on her run. 

Strava has privacy settings which allows its users to hide their start and end points but this is not the default

When she got home her phone went off informing her that the man was now following her on the app. 

Her husband, 71-year-old Peter James, said he was concerned by her experiences but also intrigued and saw the opportunity to use it as a base for a new novel. 

He also said it should serve as a warning to people to be careful what they share publicly online. 

Those who wish to share their runs but not want to publicise where they start and end can use ‘privacy zones’ on the app to stop people finding where they live. 

Peter James’s latest novel I Follow You tells the tale of a doctor who becomes infatuated with a woman he almost mows down with his car as she is running in Saint Helier, Jersey, and tracks her uses fictional running app Run Master.

His wife still trains but has altered the privacy settings on her tracker and  makes sure to go running at different times of the day.

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