BBC Radio Interviews Founder Alona Lashchenko on Combating Loneliness and Obesity Through Running

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Alona Lashchenko

24/08/2023 | Interviews
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In a talk that spanned countries and celebrated unity, Alona Lashchenko had the joy of sharing her story with BBC Radio. Originally from Ukraine, Alona's mission began before she moved to the UK, where she now resides in Oxford. Her innovative startup, EveryRun, brings people closer through running and technology. As Alona and Adam chatted in the studio, you could feel their enthusiasm for her narrative—a story of connecting people through running and a shared purpose.

Interviewer (Adam): First of all, though, we're going to talk to someone who's making a difference across many thousands of miles. Alona Lashchenko is from Ukraine. She's now in Oxford and is running her business from here, bringing people together. She's in the studio with me. Alona, hello, welcome.

Alona: Hi, hello Adam.

Adam: Thank you so much for being here today. I know it's early, but much appreciated. So tell me about EveryRun, how does it all work?

Alona: EveryRun is on a mission to fight obesity and the epidemic of loneliness, but by making it super easy to organize and participate in community running events.

Adam: So how does it work then?

Alona: For runners, we provide an easy way to participate in running events. We have an app that is available on the Apple Store and Google Play. Anyone can install the app, find the event they want to participate in, and register. At the same time, we provide end-to-end solutions for anyone who wants to organize running events.

Adam: It's for runners and running event organizers as well?

Alona: Absolutely, yes. We are supporting marathon organizers, NGOs, running groups, and anyone who wants to bring people together through running.

Adam: How long have you been operating EveryRun?

Alona: I've been in the running industry since 2016, and EveryRun was established in 2021.

Adam: Okay, so fairly new. How has the reaction been to it? Have you had a lot of people signing up?

Alona: So far, we have about 10,000 runners. Most of them are in Ukraine. We also just launched the mobile app for runners, so we expect to see a large number of runners in other countries as well. But Ukraine is where it all started, and then it gradually became global. I have been organizing parkrun-type events in Ukraine since 2016. Then we saw the problem in the market that it is actually very difficult to get into the Marathon organizing business, and we decided to close this gap.

Adam: Got you. Okay. I've got to ask as you, how are you finding Oxford in general?

Alona: Oh, I absolutely love it... I love everything but the rain.

Adam: Yeah, that sounds about right. What was it like bringing EveryRun over here?

Alona: We have a run in August, it's the Race for Ukraine. It's a virtual run, which means that anyone can participate from any location; they just need to install the EveryRun app and register for the event. The organizer is Ukraine Shelter; they raise money to support women and children who had to flee from Ukraine because of the war.

Adam: And so everybody logs on at the same time around the world, wherever they might be, and then it's all running at the same time, but in your own specific place, and it all tracks on your phone, is that right?

Alona: Exactly, yeah. That's how it works. There is a 3-day time gap when you can complete the 5k run. You can run, walk, or jog.

Adam: I'll do the walking.

Alona: Yeah, that's also possible. And in the end, you can compare your results with everyone who participated in the race.

Adam: I think it's a much nicer way of doing it. Instead of just running, like you said earlier, it's to battle that loneliness. Because it can be quite a lonely thing running, it can be quite a closed-off solo thing. But knowing that there are people doing it around the world as well and it's all through the phone, that's quite a powerful thing.

Alona: Yeah, that's the idea. This format is a virtual event, which brings people together all over the world. But also, we provide a parkrun-type offline event solution. So in Ukraine, 30 minutes ago, the Runday race just finished, which means people were running 5k together in 10 different parks around the country.

Adam: Wow, that's incredible. Just the connectedness of running, that's lovely.

Alona: So EveryRun is available now on iPhone and Android. Anyone can just download the app, sign up, and start running. We also have a website which is where you can go and find more information. But generally, if you want to run, the mobile app should be enough.

Adam: And when did you say that the big event is happening? It is from August 24th to 27th.

Alona: Race For Ukraine will take place from August 24th to 27th, and anyone can participate to support the Ukraine Shelter charity.

Adam: So there you go, that is EveryRun available now on your phone. You can sign up and take part in that event on the 24th of August. Alona, thank you so much for coming in and telling us about it. And best of luck, and keep us up to date with the progress of the app as well.

Alona: Thank you.

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