Astronaut taps app to run race in space

British astronaut Tim Peake will have a digital avatar representing him in the RunSocial app. He will also be able to see avatars of other runners who use the app during the marathon.
British astronaut Tim Peake will have a digital avatar representing him in the RunSocial app. He will also be able to see avatars of other runners who use the app during the marathon.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

With made-in-Singapore app, runners can join London Marathon without being there

An app developed in Singapore is set to help an astronaut run a marathon - in space.

Briton Tim Peake will take part in next year's London Marathon while orbiting 400km above earth on board the International Space Station (ISS), travelling at 27,000kmh.

He will start the 42.2km race on a treadmill at the same time as the other 37,000 runners and be able to see the same route as them using an Apple iPad. He will wear a harness tethered to the treadmill to combat weightlessness.

RunSocial filmed the high-definition video of the route during the 2013 and 2014 London marathons.

The playback will match Mr Peake's pace and he will have a digital avatar representing him . He will be able to see other avatars of runners from around the world who are also using the app.

RunSocial was developed by a Singapore-based team of software programmers and launched last year. It was used in this year's London Marathon by other runners who did not make the actual race.

Next year, almost 250,000 people, whose applications failed for the oversubscribed April 24 event, will be offered a free download.

Englishman Marc Hardy, 43, an avid runner who is married to a Singaporean, helped to come up with it through his company Paofit, in order to liven up boring treadmill jogs.

He told The Straits Times the start-up had been in talks with the European Space Agency about using the app in space and the company is partnering the marathon's organisers. "It fitted perfectly with the idea of Tim running the London course for a second time, only this time from the International Space Station," he said.

Mr Peake, who ran the marathon in 1999, is the first Briton selected by the European Space Agency for a mission to the ISS.

It launches on Dec 15 and he is expected to stay on the ISS for about six months. "The thing I'm most looking forward to is that I can still interact with everybody down on earth," he said.

The 43-year-old is raising funds for British-based Prince's Charity which helps disadvantaged youngsters get their lives on track.

The RunSocial app is available for Apple users at $8.98.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2015, with the headline 'Astronaut taps app to run race in space'. Print Edition | Subscribe