These are the words that sum up Vivobarefoot’s office challenge at ÖTILLÖ Isles of Scilly in June.
Twelve employees from eleven different departments within the minimalist-soled shoe company – including co-founders Galahad Clark and Asher Clark, who’s also Design Director, International Sales Manager Dale Turrell, Director of Operations and Sustainability Damian Peat, and Marketing Director Anne Harrison – formed six teams for the Sprint race on Sunday, June 18.
The achievement of the team-building weekend had nothing to do with Finish Line times. From an outsider’s point of view, you would have thought this group, with family members and four-legged friends in tow, were childhood friends taking their annual summer vacation together as they joked, chuckled and shared a few beverages across the weekend.
Vivobarefoot is an ÖTILLÖ official sponsor, and Galahad Clark, of the Clark shoe family, is a regular on the ÖTILLÖ Sprint circuit. And while various employees have participated in other ÖTILLÖ swimruns, the Isles of Scilly brought the word “team” to a whole new level.
“It was a hugely emotional event for us, and not just because of the amazing setting,” Dale Turrell told SLM. “It was physically challenging, a rollercoaster of feelings.”
Asher Clark explained to SLM that swimrun is a key part of Vivobarefoot’s strategy. “It ties us to our belief of having as little between you and nature as possible,” he commented. “We encouraged our staff to train together and connect emotionally outside the work environment.”
Not many companies provide this exceptional type of opportunity to their staff. Over ten months, Vivobarefoot employees, a few who have no open water or running experience, would run along the Thames over lunch, encouraging and supporting each other. No wonder Marketing Director Anne Harrison choose “together” to best summarise the weekend.
Dale said “epic” was how he would remember his first swimrun on the Isles of Scilly. “Swimrun is a rough but well-rounded sport. I worried about whether all of our teams were okay, if we were going to make it.”
“I had two epiphanies about swimrun on the Isles of Scilly,” Director of Operations and Sustainability Damian Peat, who also did his first swimrun, shared. “First, cake. When I saw racers eating cake at the Energy Stations, and how relaxed everyone was, I was overwhelmed by the niceness of the community.
“The second was the friendliness of the ÖTILLÖ staff, even the sweepers. They all made you feel like you were more than just a competitor.”
It was a photo finish for a different reason. Three Vivobarefoot teams waited on the exit of the last swim to finish the Sprint together. Hand in hand, Damian and his team partner Davis Rose (The Iron Mermaiders), Anne Harrison and Dale Turrell (Interconti-mental) and Greg Bamford and Rob Boswell (Rambozzled), all crossed the finish line together.
It was a moment that represents what ÖTILLÖ is all about: team work and sportsmanship à la fun.
And it was clear to everyone around that the motivation and morale the Vivobarefoot crew found on the Isles of Scilly swimrun will splash over to the office.
Vivobarefoot has set the challenge for other companies to abandon traditional team-building activities and get their employees swimrunning.
Article first published in Swimrun Life Magazine Issue #3 (July 2017)