There’s no better bonding experience than crawling through barbed wire and falling off monkey bars with your teammates, right?
Last month, that’s exactly what some of our Redmond associates signed up for when they participated in a Spartan Sprint race in Huntsville, Utah.
Not only was the race a physical and mental challenge, but it also brought the team together and sparked some amazing aha moments about life, work, and what we humans are capable of, especially when we work together.
This is Sparta: What’s a Spartan race, anyway?
There are several different types of Spartan Races, but our associates went for the sprint, which is the shortest race, but still a challenge. It’s a 5k…with 20 challenging obstacles thrown in. Think spear throws, rope climbs, walls, monkey bars, carrying heavy weights over the trail, balance beams, and more. And did we mention the hills?
You might be thinking “Wow, that sounds like a giant playground! Fun!”
Or, you might be wondering why on earth anyone would choose to spend their Sunday afternoon crawling through barbed wire and running up hills instead of reading a book on a patio with a nice iced latte (or however you prefer to spend your Sunday).
Well, here’s why!
Why does Redmond sponsor these activities?
While Redmond sponsors (i.e. pays for) lots of activities like this, we don’t facilitate them or require anyone to go. The associates are the ones who make it happen. If someone thinks it’s a good idea and a lot of other people are on board, Redmond will pay their way. (Redmond also sponsors yoga and Crossfit classes for our associates, as well as a number of retreats and other activities every year. Check out @redmondexperience on Instagram to see those highlights!)
Why would Redmond, or any company, do this?
Because it fits with our mission and values. Events like this are part of elevating the human experience.
Working as a team through a giant obstacle course is an incredible way to bond and develop our core value of Ubuntu. There’s just something about hauling each other over walls and falling off monkey bars together that helps you truly see each other (and yourself).
Some (though not everyone) find challenges like this to be incredibly renewing (which is another of our core values).
And, as you’ll soon read, experiences like this create a lot of opportunities for our core value of reflection as well.
These experiences help our associates learn about themselves and each other, and that growth ripples outward!
For many in our group, this was their first Spartan race, and they weren’t sure what to expect!
“I felt nervous and jittery before the race,” says Natalie, a marketing associate in our Redmond Life business unit. “It’s only 3 miles, but who knows what the obstacles will be like.”
Most of the team was already pretty active and did varying types and amounts of prep for this race.
Some of them do Crossfit regularly, others go to the gym a few days a week, and some tried some…unconventional training methods. “We started painting my house right after I signed up, which took a lot of time,” says Jordyn, a culture team member. “So I hauled 5-gallon paint buckets around!”
Whatever works, right?
Our group arrived on the warm Sunday afternoon with a plan: there would initially be two groups; a “running” group and a “walking” group. They knew groups might split, but no one would ever be alone.
The race started off strong. Natalie says “To get to the starting line, you have to crawl through barbed wire and mud while they’re spraying you with a hose.” That’s intense!
As the team tackled the obstacles one by one, they gained more confidence in what they could do on their own, and as a group.
Tanner, a production team lead for Redmond Life, said “I’ve never been able to pull up my whole body weight on a rope, and that was my first time!”
Natalie realized that nerves can actually propel you to be better. “Once we were in it, I wasn’t nervous; I was curious about what was coming next. With [the team] right by me, it felt easier and less scary. I had people by my side to talk me through, and cheer me on.”
Some learned that by pacing themselves, they could do more with a lot less struggle.
For culture team member Tara, this was her second race. This year, she was ten weeks postpartum and decided to take it a little slower and stay with the walking group. And—surprise!—she actually finished twenty minutes faster than last year when she tried to run the whole thing!
Jordyn had a similar experience. “It’s straight uphill for a half mile or so. Last year I ran straight up, and I was so gassed by the end and it made the race so hard. I also forgot my Re-Lyte sticks last year. So this year, I packed lots of Re-Lyte and just walked the whole time. I feel like that helped me stay at a steady pace instead of going too hard, too fast, and struggling through the rest. And I still finished in less time than last year!”
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Overall, the biggest standout was the camaraderie the team shared.
This was a race, after all. Time mattered. The fastest people in the group could have easily left the others in the dust, but they didn’t. Everyone helped and cheered each other on. No one did this on their own.
Natalie says “Even if I was the last to finish an obstacle, they’d wait for me, and we’d continue as a group. I knew they had my back if I needed it.”
Tanner said “I wasn’t nervous because we were there as a team, and it was our game plan to stick together and push each other through. No one was trying to be a maverick. Everyone stuck together, so any nerves I would have had were gone because everyone was there supporting each other, helping each other get over obstacles, and motivating each other.”
After every obstacle, whoever finished first waited to help the rest of the group, and everyone waited until the last person finished the obstacle before moving on together, like a family. Everyone was included, and no one got left behind.
That’s how it works at Redmond. We all collaborate, help each other, and work together across teams and projects.
And it wasn’t just the Redmond team supporting each other either. Other participants would stop to help other people, whether they knew them or not.
The team cheered each other on until the very end. “Last year, I was one of the last people to cross the finish line,” Jordyn says. “This year…I was also one of the last. I kind of liked being the last though, because my whole team was there cheering for me. If I were the first, I’d have no one there cheering for me.”
That’s an excellent point!
“Everyone was there to help each other finish,” Tanner says. “Everyone was encouraging, and cheering. We all did this together.”
After the Finish Line
A challenge like this can open up doors, and wake you up to your own potential and possibilities you might have never considered.
Tanner says “I was shocked because I’d never done anything like that. Yes, that was a challenge, but it was such a rewarding challenge. I felt like I could conquer the world. This was a 5k, but after that, I felt motivated to try a 10k or 20k, or an even bigger race. I thought, ‘What more can I do?’” And then he ran a half marathon the next Saturday, less than a week later!
Jordyn’s experience was a complete 180 from last year. “It’s weird that I was hiking up the mountain and reflecting on last year and thinking how last time, I just wanted to die and get it over with. This year, I was thinking ‘Should I do a Trifecta next year? Should I try harder things?’ My mindset changed so much from last year to this year.”
“Overall, I felt happy the whole time,” Natalie says.”When I was running downhill [at the end] I looked like a maniac, but that’s how they train you to slow with your arms and avoid knee pain. It took me an hour and 26 minutes, and the second group was only 15 or 20 minutes behind.”
Our team learned, bonded, and grew so much from this experience. Here are some of their key aha moments:
- You can do so much more than you think you can. So often, limitations are in your head.
- Sometimes, slow and steady wins the race!
- We can go farther together than we can on our own. We usually have more fun that way too!
- Allow yourself to imagine the possibilities! Should you try harder things? What more can you do?
We can’t wait to see what challenges our team will take on next!