When Mom and Dad work in a patent law office, ideas for inventions are everywhere. Amanda and Jay Brooks created the IsaBrella beach umbrella (named for their daughter Isabelle) which features an anchoring method similar to a pogo stick. They can envision a “Joshua Tree” (named for son Josh) that could hang-dry hockey equipment. And new to market this year is the app FASTZach (named for son Zach) which customizes running routes based on distance and points of interest.
“We’re always entertaining ourselves with the development of some product or another,” Amanda said. “It’s never dull at our house.”
They patented the FASTZach technology back in 2005, before smartphones and before kids. Amanda, a long-distance runner, said she created the concept after traveling to other cities. If she was unsure what running route to take, hotel clerks might tell her to simply run for a few miles in one direction and turn around. She’d end up on a treadmill or waiting at stoplights on busy city streets.
Through the new app, the user enters a distance and one or more points of interest to hit along the way. A drop down menu of destinations offers ideas like Brownie Lake or Quaking Bog at Theodore Wirth Park.
“I find things I didn’t know existed,” Amanda said.
The app then selects a round trip on a route that targets pedestrian paths, trails and parkways.
“A lot of other apps take you on whatever trip the roads are,” she said.
Users can edit the route, and voice navigation can direct each turn.
“It was a total labor of love,” Amanda said.
FASTZach creates popup 5K events in partnership with local retailers like Running Room, with proceeds going to charities that include the Children’s Hospital foundation. The next “Route for Change” is May 13 at 9 a.m. at Title Nine, 3942 W. 50th St. in Edina.
FASTZach is also sponsoring two upcoming self defense classes for runners. (Runner’s World Magazine recently reported that 43 percent of women and 4 percent of men occasionally experience harassment while on a run.)
The classes are May 20 at 9:30 a.m. at Lynnhurst Community Center, 1345 W. Minnehaha Pkwy; and May 21 at 9:30 a.m. at Title Nine in Edina.