London’s next fitness craze? – PokéRun review: gaming meets fitness 

We did our first PokéRun (yes its a thing), a running meetup with a gaming twist which took place yesterday at Wembley Park, north-west London.

PokéRun combines a casual beginner to intermediate run with the latest gaming craze from Nintendo, Pokemon Go. Soon, you will start to notice droves of people darting around London staring at their smartphone as if they’re looking for the gateway to another world.

Pokemon Go uses AR (augmented reality) to superimpose characters into our everyday lives using your smartphone’s camera. Users are expected to exhaust themselves hunting around the city to capture these virtual creatures.

outdoor-gym

The route started at Wembley’s King Edward VII Park where I found my first ‘Pokestop’, a place users can visit to collect items to help them progress through the game. These places can be found at points of interest throughout the city, on this occasion it was one of those outdoor gyms. At the time, two men doing street calisthenics looked on as I jogged on the spot swiping away at my phone. Pokestops are clearly labelled in the games map as blue squares.

spearow

After jogging past the outdoor gym I found my first Pokemon, a Spearow, some ghastly looking bird like creature. To catch a Pokemon you have to throw a Pokeball at it. At this stage, multitasking is important, you end up jogging on the spot while swiping away until you capture the darn thing.

mahatma-gandhi-house

We head out of the park toward Wembley Stadium, arriving at another Pokestop, this time it’s Mahatma Ghandi House; a disused, 7 storey office building, as I run past I replenish my stock of Pokeballs.

zubat-white-horse-bridge

As we get closer to the stadium, over the White Horse Bridge, I find a Zubat, it’s difficult to capture, a flying creature, it just won’t stay still, really working up a sweat at this point.

pokeun-wembley-stadium

Circling the stadium, I discover this is where to find virtual gyms. Gyms are where the battles happen, the place where you go up against other Pokemon Go players; so it’s fitting that this is located at the stadium. Appearing on the map as a huge structure, gyms can only be accessed if you’ve reached a certain level in the game.

squirle

With Wembley behind us, we arrive at the London Designer Outlet where I encounter Squirtle, jogging but stagnant I obsessively swipe at my phone until I capture the darn thing, quizzical looks ensue.

cabana-pig

We arrive at a mural of a pig with tassels around its waist, belonging to the Cabana Brazilian restaurant; the game uses it as a Pokestop as it does with many other select businesses throughout the city.

cliff-richard

The game throws a curveball at me by flashing up Cliff Richard’s hand mould, momentarily distracted I start to wonder about the logic and possible ramifications of using particular places as Pokestops. Having picked up some candy, potions and anything else Cliff was offering, I move on.

shellder

I then capture Shellder, a scavenger of the sea which can be found outside the local authority, Brent Councils Civic Centre.

pokerun-wembley-library

Shortly after, Wembley library was the next stop captured in the game, this route turned out to have a many points of interest which was a good distraction, as you end up not thinking too much about the distance you’ve covered.

zubat-olympic-way

Another Zubat is spotted along Olympic Way. Jog, swipe, catch ‘em. Repeat.

poke-run-novotel

Novotel hotel generously replenished my items.

goldeen

A Pokemon fish was captured whilst running over a River Brent canal which flows underneath Bridge Rd.

gastly

The route then passed through the Wembley Park McDonald’s, where a Gastly was lurking. Whilst standing with my smartphone pointed at this virtual creature, a vehicle parked outside the fast food restaurant revved its engine with tyres screeching and then sped off. They must have thought I was taking a picture of them. What they were doing in that car and why they suddenly sped off the way they did is anyones guess.

pokeun-olympic-way

Returning towards the Stadium the route is nearly complete.

drowzee

Outside the four star Hilton Wembley, I find a Drowzee.

rattatta

Followed by a rat outside Wembley Park’s residential, 5k completed.

It’s understandable to see why Pokemon Go is so popular, it will become the new way to annoy your friends on social media with pictures of virtual creatures superimposed on everyday life; in supermarkets, on the tube, at work. It will become a new way for businesses to engage with customers, it will become your new guilty pleasure.

I found that the PokéRun effectively gamifies running, which can act as an incentive to encourage you to run more often. It’s also very distracting, I ran 5k without thinking about it.

Are you interested in joining the next PokéRun to keep fit while you catch ’em all? All running / walking abilities and ages welcome, join our next PokéRun.

Pokemon Go UK release date

America, Australia and Germany are the only countries that Pokemon Go has been officially released with no date yet confirmed for the UK. So to get the game in the UK there is a workaround, follow these instructions:

iPhone

  1. 1. Open the App Store, click the Featured tab, scroll down to the bottom, tap your Apple ID and ‘Sign out’.
  2. 2. Close the App Store and open Settings > General > Language & Region and change the region to the US.
  3. 3. Open App Store again, find Pokemon Go and download it, you’ll be prompted to create a new Apple ID. Fill out the form (add any US address) and select ‘None’ in the billing menu.
  4. 4. Pokémon GO should start to download, if not, search for it again and tap GET.

Android

  1. 1. Download Pokémon Go from an APK download site such as APKPure.com, ideally directly on your phone but, failing that, on a PC (58.1MB file size).
  2. 2. If using a PC, attach your phone to the PC via USB and drag the downloaded file to your Downloads folder. On your phone go to Settings > Security and enable installation of apps from unknown sources. Now hit Pokémon Go in your Downloads folder to install the game.