Game-changing app revolutionises running during pandemic
GROWING up in the Tweed, Alex Bowden loved running but his shyness stopped him competing.
At 21, running again became a powerful force in his life as he dealt with losing a close friend.
"I just started running as a way for me to help with my mental health," Alex said.
About 18 months ago after three-and a-half-years of development, filmmaker Alex, 28, with his software engineer brother Daniel Bowden, 30, created an app to help inspire others to take care of their physical and mental health through running.
Born from a passion project, Bolt for Gold allows runners of all abilities to race and compete from anywhere around the world without ever having to stray too far from their daily routine.
"There was no app at the time that held live races for people," Alex said.
"For people who were like me who liked to run alone or didn't want to compete in front of people or couldn't travel to where they needed to be to compete, it is perfect.
"It's also a way to inspire people to get active."
The app provides users with a list of every coming race with a start time, which appear in chronological order.
Users can save their favourite race and set a reminder to be notified before the race starts.
Users can make their own races, challenge their friends, host team events, race across any time zone under their profile.
Users can then connect their school through the app and share their race position and times with any of their friends.
Since the coronavirus, the app has taken off with local schools.
Not only is it providing a fun way to challenge peers and teachers, but it is also a way to run cross-country trials while in isolation.
Kingscliff High School sports co-ordinator Scott Ella said using Bolt for Gold initially started out as a way of giving students a way to be active and achieve goals but soon evolved as a way of connecting with each other during isolation.
"Social interactions and being active is an important part of school … we had cross-country coming up and the idea of having cross-country on the app because we couldn't run it due to coronavirus restrictions was great."
Participants don't have to run at exactly the same time, for example a 3km race might be open from 8am-5pm for students to complete the run some time during the day.
"If they are really keen they can do it multiple times for a better time," Mr Ella said.
"Everything has gone online and there isn't much movement in online learning so it's another reason why I wanted to help the kids be active and set some goals."
Alex is a Kingscliff High School alumni and still lives near Cabarita Beach.
The school currently has 75 teachers and students registered and taking part in the app's races.
"It's great to see someone chase his own dreams and then give back to his own school and community," Mr Ella said.
"Great to see products of the school doing amazing things."
Looking towards the future, Alex said the app had partnered with Australia's champion sprinter Jack Hale and there were also talks with Athletics Australia about running regional cross-country events during the coronavirus.
Earlier in the year, superstar surfer Mick Fanning joined in a race on the app.
The app also has the ability to run virtual running fundraisers.
For more information visit https://www.boltforgold.com.