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This article was published 16/10/2017 (1502 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
An app created by a local runner is connecting people from across the globe on one starting line.
Buddhika Madduma, 36, recently launched RaceRunner — a new smartphone application that allows runners in Winnipeg and abroad to race against each other in different locations, share images from their runs, and connect with one another through social media feeds and voice chat.
In 2009, Madduma moved to Fort Richmond from Sri Lanka to complete his master’s degree in computer sciences at the University of Winnipeg. At first the application, originally conceived by Madduma and his friends back home, was meant to make running a little less lonely, but the group soon realized the potential the idea held.
"We used to run — because we’re software programmers, we don’t do much exercise or work out — so we’d run and play cricket," Madduma said. "I missed everything when I came here. Everything was new to me, and one day we were talking about running and we said, ‘Let’s run together.’
"We wanted to gamify the daily running and make it a competition."
After a few months of research and development, Madduma identified at least two reasons no other app had been developed that put faraway runners in real time, head-to-head competition: accurate distance measurement and how to determine whether someone was cheating. Over the last year, he experimented with the concept, creating algorithms and writing programs to make the playing field as level as possible.
During a race, automatically generated voice commands tell a runner their position in the pack, their pace, and distance travelled. Runners are also able to join races hosted by people across the world or connect with available racers for a friendly jog. The app also allows runners to track their progress and position globally and collect points that can be redeemed for running gear.
After its trial run with about 100 people across Canada, Madduma says the bugs have been fixed and the app is getting users from around the world.
"We feel that it’s exciting and it’s working, and we’ve overcome the challenges," he said.
With the help of the team at North Forge, an incubator for startups located on the University of Manitoba’s Fort Garry campus, Madduma released RaceRunner on Google Play and the App Store about a month ago. So far about 1,000 users are active on the application with runners from Italy to India connecting to race. As the app gains more users, Madduma says there is the potential to host a race with as many as 100,000 runners — what he calls a global marathon.
"Even though you don’t have people to run in your location, you can find friends from all over the world — there are thousands of people running — you can make a connection with those guys and make a friendly competition," he said.
For more information go to racerunner.com
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.