Kickstarter Fundraising Race Group Creator Set

“Anyone who’s run a marathon with a Garmin knows that even though the GPS says you’re 26.2 miles away, you might not really be at the finish line,” said Fishman, who ticked 12. states of its list.

So Middleton’s 41-year-old mother founded a company called Pacebands that offers a GPS alternative without any technology: a $ 9 silicone strap embossed with the split times runners must reach to cross the finish line when they want it. A runner trying to complete a marathon in 3 hours 45 minutes, for example, might get a bracelet with a pace graph for that specific time: 8 minutes 35 seconds after 1 mile, 5:10 PM after 2, and so on.

The bracelet is a simple addition to any stopwatch and is actually more foolproof than GPS, Fishman said, because runners only have to glance at their wrists every mile. Neither pimples nor cloud cover can interfere. And now his business is about to launch a campaign on Kickstarter to raise money to grow.

Olympian Ryan Hall has signed a deal with Pacebands, founded by marathon runner Gretchen Fishman of Middleton.Rhythm bands / rhythm bands

Fishman’s tech-free innovation is standing out in a Massachusetts start-up scene that is a hotbed for tech-dependent health and fitness companies. The best-known example might be Boston-based Runkeeper, which is creating a mobile app that helps users plan and record their workouts, and share their results on social media. The app is free, although the company offers a paid service called Runkeeper Elite that tracks calories burned, improvement over time, and other metrics for $ 20 per year. The Runkeeper app has been downloaded over 20 million times since its launch in 2008.

Another Boston company, Lose It !, is creating a free weight loss app to count calories and last year released a premium version that costs $ 40 per year and monitors more specific goals, like the amount of protein. consumed by users and their adherence to exercise programs. . Loose it! is frequently ranked among the best weight loss apps available and reports that users have lost over 24 million pounds in five years.

Other local fitness start-ups include TrainingPal, which helps personal trainers do the extra work by offering online instruction, and Vitogo, maker of a strength and conditioning app that creates exercise plans. Customized based on a user’s current fitness level and goals. Both companies are based in Cambridge.

Others seem likely to appear soon. Next weekend, Microsoft’s New England Research and Development Center in Cambridge and the Brooklyn Boulders Climbing Gym and Common Workspace in Somerville are co-hosting a three-day startup challenge called HackFit. About 150 entrepreneurs interested in fitness and tech will attempt to start businesses that merge the two.

“Boston is a great innovation-driven community, and many innovators in the region care about their health,” said HackFit co-founder Justin Mendelson. “I want to create an ecosystem where people can develop fitness technologies and make the world a more active and healthier place.”

Fishman agrees that digital fitness tools can be useful – she still loves a lot of the features of her Garmin watch – but sometimes the best solution is simple. After unveiling her Pacebands at the Boston Marathon Expo in April, she finds many runners in agreement – including two-time Olympian Ryan Hall, the US half-marathon record holder, who has signed a sponsorship deal with the company. in July and plans to wear her bracelets during races this fall.

Hall stars in a promotional video for Pacebands’ upcoming Kickstarter campaign, launched with the goal of raising $ 20,000 on the crowdfunding website. In the video, which Pacebands shared with the Globe, Hall said the bracelets are useful not only on race day – like any other stimulation aid – but also during training.

“It’s a hugely motivating thing to remember why I kill myself in training, why I’m here,” said Hall, who trains in Kenya and was not available for an interview. “I see the gaps I want to run for a 59-minute half marathon and I remember, ‘OK, that’s what I’m looking for, that’s my big goal.’ “

So far, Pacebands has sold around 4,000 bracelets, mostly through direct orders on its website. The company is working to forge retail partnerships with running stores, and the Pacebands are already available from Marx Running in Acton and Rhode Runner Sports in Providence.

Pacebands makes bracelets in 5 minute increments for marathon runners looking for finish times between 2 hours 30 minutes and 6 hours. Wristbands are also available for half marathons in 2 minute 30 second increments, and the company plans to offer wristbands for 10 and 5 kilometer runs with money raised through the Kickstarter campaign.

For Fishman, the company is another way to carry on his love of track and field sports. A competitive walker in her twenties, she finished ninth at the US Olympic Trials in 2000.

Retired Fishman worked as a physiotherapist and most recently was a stay-at-home mom of three – running all the time.

“The track has always been a part of my life,” she said. “Now Pacebands allows me to have a business in something I love. This is my fourth baby.


Callum Borchers can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @callumbochers.



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