Friday July 15th, 2016

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People rely on GPS in their cars, RunGo founder and CEO Craig Slagel says, so why not rely on it when they’re running?

Slagel created the RunGo app for people just like him, those who love to run, love to travel and sometimes get lost. The app provides runners with turn-by-turn directions on unique running routes all over the world, sometimes narrating the run with points of interest. Additionally, the app records live stats such as distance, time, elevation gain and calories burned.

“There were no really great alternatives,” Slagel said. “There was either run with a map, run with written directions or memorize the route.”

Slagel says that other navigation apps don’t handle the nuances of a running route the way RunGo does. The app isn’t only about getting from point A to point B, Slagel said, it’s about taking in scenery and running the best route possible. With RunGo, users can also create their own routes and share them with their friends.

The first version of the Vancouver-based app debuted in 2014, followed by a more official launch in 2015 that included a charity run to benefit BC guide dogs. Slagel’s own dog, Dynasty, is a retired guide dog. When he adopted her in 2012, his friends thought that Dynasty could help Slagel with the challenge of navigation.

“My dog doesn’t run so she was no good for guiding me,” Slagel said. “I just thought, ‘I could turn this into an app.’”

Because of the guide dog-inspired element of the app, Slagel has been very aware of the opportunity RunGo provides to visually impaired runners. “We want it to be available for everyone if possible,” Slagel said.

This year, the focus has been on marketing and expanding the usage of RunGo. The company’s blog documents exceptional routes everywhere from Sydney to Dublin to Portland. Slagel has even seen custom routes pop up on the app as far as Nepal, which gives him a kick. “It’s always fun to see where new routes are popping up,” Slagel said.

For travelers, the app also allows runners to download routes so that they’re not using data off the grid.

Going forward, Slagel wants to see the app become more compatible with wearables such as the Apple Watch. He’s also looking to give the app a more social edge, incorporating “live-tracking,” especially during marathons and other large races when the guide can alert the runner where his or her friends are.

It also would treat important spectators as points of interest, perhaps alerting the runner where mom is on the sidelines.

“I’ve done a few races where I’ve had family and friends say, ‘I was there cheering for you and you ran straight by me,’” Slagel said. “So having that would help me and keep me out of trouble.”

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