What do you get what you combine the thrill of competition, the benefits of technology and the passion that runners have for their local communities? Simple — a new gamified movement app cleverly named Card.io (more on that later) that is turning outdoor cardio into a community-based game of team turf war. And it’s all in the name of getting people outdoors to run.

The brainchild of entrepreneur and technology creator Destin George Bell,
Card.io allows retailers and run clubs to form teams with their members and “claim” or “steal” the areas of town they walk, run or bike through from other teams in their city, all while tracking stats such as mile pace, distance and calories burned. It’s a lot like a running version of Capture the Flag or King of the Hill.

“The trend of people wanting fun, social experiences is what is driving Card.io,” explains Bell. “Imagine being able to bring the fun of run clubs, destination races and general friendly competition to everyday cardio.”

In addition, he adds, Card.io creates a fun experience for people who need the motivation to become more active. “Whereas apps like Strava are trackers made for people who love cardio or have tangible goals around fitness, they aren’t great motivators for people looking for a way to get motivated in the first place,” he says. 

(BTW, in case you were wondering,
Card.io is a play-on-words for a few things: Card.io, as in the word “cardio”; .io is a domain extension for tech companies; and .io games such as snake.io and slither.io are games that involve proximity-based competition based on who has the largest area, hence how the game works with the parts of the city a retailer’s or run club’s team covers with their outdoor cardio.)

Card.io works just like any other tracker, but with a gaming twist. As a person walks, runs or bikes with an Apple watch or smartphone they can track their stats. But in addition, in the background it will keep track of the areas of town they went through and, similar to those children’s games, will claim that area for their team. 

The teams are real-world groups (run clubs, retailers, race groups, company employees) that can be created by team leaders. Users can then select what team they want to run for and as they move while tracking with the app, those areas can be claimed and stolen from other teams as members move through that area.

“We’re creating a fun, social engagement point for brands and stores interested in engaging with walkers, runners and bikers in their area,” Bell explains further. “When team members claim areas of town for your organization, that area will have your logo and brand colors on it.” In addition, users who want to know who owns those areas can actually learn more about those groups through a customizable link a store’s or brand’s website or e-commerce site. 

Card.io already works with several Fleet Feet locations, Bandit Running, The Exchange and others and they have also partnered with companies that aren’t even running-centric, such as Oracle, as well as with groups such as the San Francisco Marathon. All have found value in their own ways of engaging their community, growing brand awareness for people getting into walking, running and biking more in their city and, eventually, as a way to drive brick-and-mortar and digital traffic from these communities.

The app currently has users in 357 cities and 57 countries and is being utilized by more than five dozen clubs, groups such as RRCA, Running USA and several well-known races and marathons. Its goals for expansion revolve around finding more run clubs and retailers that can be an anchor to grow in new markets.

“It’s creating an opportunity for them to engage with their community in a fun, socially engaging way as well as offering opportunities for marketing for local runners, walkers and bikers by turning their community into literal foot soldiers,” Bell adds.

The benefit for running brands is similar, he points out. “This an opportunity for these brands to find a fun way to engage with the people wearing their products during their outdoor cardio, place their brand in front of walkers, runners and bikers around the world and create a unique opportunity to drive digital traffic from those communities.”

Card.io has made it easy for retailers and clubs to get involved — they simply go onto its website at https://www.downloadcard.io/ and fill out the form to request to a custom team.  From there, the team is off and running!