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Multisport Zwifters rejoice! Now you can ride and run in the popular online social training environment.
This week, the popular virtual cycling platform Zwift announced the launch of Zwift Run Free Access, giving complimentary use of Zwift’s new online running world to the general public. With a Bluetooth Smart or ANT+ footpod, a treadmill, and an internet connection, combined with an iOS device, Apple TV, or compatible computer, users can log into Zwift Run’s new virtual environment free-of-charge to compete and train with other runners connected across the world.
Well-known for their virtual cycling program that has amassed over 170,000 subscribers as of August 2017 (the current number is estimated to be closer to 300,000), users ride as avatars in Zwift cycling’s online courses and even race in online competitions. The Long Beach-based brand has recently amassed $45 million in funding due, in part, to Zwift’s high “social density”–a term used to describe the simple popularity and “busy-ness” of Zwift’s virtual worlds that sets it apart from other virtual platforms. (Check out Triathlete’s March/April 2018 print issue for our big feature on virtual cycling.)
“Zwift Run is our big play to the triathlon community and the cornerstone of our business goal to create the world’s largest training community in triathlon,” said Eric Min, Zwift CEO
and co-founder in a press release. “Whether at home or in the gym, Zwift Run is an accessible and easy to turn-on product. In three years, Zwift has made the home turbo trainer a super-desirable product to own and an essential part of a triathlete’s training regimen. We’re going to give the ‘dreadmill’ the same makeover!”
According to Zwift, triathletes make up roughly 22 percent of their virtual cycling membership base—one of the most famous triathlete “Zwifters” is 2017 Ironman World Championship runner-up and 2017 ITU Long-Course World Champion Lionel Sanders. Sanders is best known for doing nearly all of his riding on an indoor trainer and has been vocal about the benefits of riding in an online virtual training platform. “Like it or not, we’re social beings,” Sanders told us in a recent interview for our March/April story. “I can tell people are watching my numbers on Zwift; I have an audience every single day. It forces me to raise my game. I can’t wimp out.”
In conjunction with Zwift’s new free access, the running power meter brand Stryd has announced a partnership with the online platform and is now offering a simplified version of their popular Bluetooth Smart footpod. For half of the price of their power-based platform (which is also Zwift-compatible), the Stryd Live complements the new virtual environment and provides speed, distance, and cadence beamed into Zwift’s online world.
Zwift Run is also compatible with Garmin’s ANT+ Footpod (requires an ANT+ dongle and a MacOS or Windows-compatible computer, no iOS), Polar’s Footpod, and MileStone’s Pod (the latter two and the Stryd version are Bluetooth Smart, so no dongle required).
UnderArmour’s Record-equipped shoes also work directly with the platform, and Bluetooth-enabled treadmills (no pod or shoes required) like the BowFlex BXT116/BXT216 treadmills, any StarTrac treadmills with a Bluetooth button, LifeFitness T3 home treadmills, and the True Fitness Performance 300 are also currently compatible.
Zwift expects to keep the new online service free for most of 2018, at which time it will likely revert to the subscription plan similar to their cycling platform that costs $15 per month after a seven-day free trial.