Imagine it’s 2005 and you are traveling for work, for pleasure, with a partner or by yourself. When you get to your hotel, imagine you want to go for a five-mile run. But, since you are in a city that you don’t know, you ask the concierge for suggested running routes. The response is “go out of the hotel, turn right, run for 2.5 miles, and turn around and run back.”
That is what happened to Minneapolis resident, Amanda Brooks, over and over again.
At the time, she was traveling quite a bit with her patent attorney husband, Jay, and she was pregnant with her now 10-year-old son, Zach. She wanted to run in these new-to-her cities, but she didn’t just want to leave the hotel and run out for a few miles only to turn around and run back. Rather, she wanted to run a defined route and even see some of the sites, if she could.
Thinking she wasn’t the only person with this need, she looked for a solution online that would help her, but none existed, or at least none with all of the attributes that she wanted.
So, she set out to create her own.
The problem was, it was 2005. The technology wasn’t there. Heck, the iPad wasn’t even there. And so, she waited.
Fast-forward 10 years. Finally, in 2015, the technology had caught up with her vision, and Amanda could create exactly what she was looking for ten years earlier.
The birth of FASTZach
By April of 2016, Amanda and Jay began working with local digital marketing agency, Augeo + Greer, to create FASTZach, an app that allows users to customize their running (or walking or biking) routes.
You simply enter how many miles you want to run (or walk or bike) and it will display routes for you, based on your current location. It also will include user-selected criteria and points of interest.
What’s more, you are GPS tracked and guided by turn-by-turn voice navigation. And, the plan is for future iterations to intgegrate with social media so you can crowd-source to see if there are any other runners around you, as well as view recommended running routes or points of interest to see.
“Nothing existed until now that truly allows you to customize your route,” says Brooks. And with Jay’s help, they filed a couple of patents on their technology.
FASTZach is subscription-based and is available for Apple decvices in the App Store. The Android version is scheduled to be released in the spring of 2017.
And why the name FASTZach?
“It’s called FASTZach because I was pregnant with Zach when we thought of it,” says Brooks. “The name kind of stuck”
Community of Runners
Brooks envisions FASTZach to be more than simply an app. She wants it to help create running communities. As such, she has launched a series of pop-up 5K events called Route for Change. These free, organized runs are hosted at local running stores throughout the Twin Cities and are all donation-based, with all of the money raised going to a local charity.
The first Route for Change was Saturday, January 28 at Gear Running Store, with the proceeds going to Wags & Whiskers Animal Rescue. Two more are planned; one on February 25 at TC Running, and one on March 8 at St. Paul Running Room.
“The running community has been so fabulous to work with,” says Brooks. “We had a great group of about 2,000 beta users, and without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”