Virtual runs in real life: Racefully is uniting runners around the world

By Oliver Smith 15 August 2016

Find a running mate to inspire you, even if you don't live in the same city or country.

What if you could run the London marathon, without even being in London.

That’s exactly what Chris Pointon and his co-founder David Naylor did in April this year, while testing out their new app Racefully.

Pointon ran the actual marathon – in a very respectable 4hr 31mins – and his colleagues could run it with him, from anywhere in the world.

The idea for Racefully first sprung up after Pointon moved to the UK and lost his running community, and Naylor’s best friend and running partner moved to Australia.

Meet Racefully

Racefully’s pitch is simple, race your friends, even if you’re not with your friends.

“It connects runners all around the world through virtual runs in real time,” Hannah Allen, Racefully’s community manager told The Memo.

“Up to seven friends can race live in real time wherever they are in the world, I race against my mum in Canada, the app lets us know who’s winning and when we overtake each other.”

Racefully even has an audio commentator who gives encouraging updates to let you know how you’re doing, and in the future the team has plans to allow voice chat while you run.

Unlike Strava, which lets you record your run and have other people do that same route, Racefully runs can take place at opposite sides of the world either in real time, or as a recorded run.

The beauty of Racefully is that the app will even compensate for the different environments or weather that each running is facing, so there’s no unfair advantage from running downhill.

Runners united

Undoubtedly there’s a booming demand for running, and the sense of community that comes with it. Just look at the one million Brits who have been on a Parkrun, the weekly Saturday morning 5km runs that happen across the country.

But not everyone has family or friends close by who can join them on a run, and that’s exactly where Racefully comes in.

“Big areas for us will be things like charity runs, or people around the world being able to technically participate in the London Marathon without actually being there,” says Allen.

Or even if you’re not a hyper-competitive pro runner, but just want to discover likeminded people to help push you over the line of that first 5km.

So whether your best friend and running mate lives in the same city, or the other side of the world, it’s definitely worth giving Racefully a go.

Racefully is free for iPhone and coming to Android soon.