RUNNING WITH THE PACK: A CLOSER LOOK AT TEAM RUNNING
By Cindy Lapeña
The name Brown’s Volkswagen has become synonymous with the PEI Marathon Corporate Relay, considering Brown’s has sponsored this event since its very first running in 2006 with 7 teams. For the record, 42 teams participated in 2015 as more organizations seem to see the value of being physically active as a group. We went straight to Brown’s General Manager, Tammy Roach, to see what keeps them in the running.
CL: Besides the publicity and goodwill it generates, what value does Brown’s VW see in sponsoring the Corporate Relay?
Tammy: To promote healthy living and to be seen as a company that is “active” and active in the community!
CL: Do you think the Corporate Relay will always carry the Brown’s VW name on it? Tammy: Well, we’ve been there since the very start – is there a finish line?
CL: How does your sponsorship of this event affect your employees?
Tammy: Well, as soon as we start talking about our team…the teasing begins, we have a lot of fun with it–who’s running what leg of the race etc.…gets everyone working out and training!
CL: Do you have any difficulty assembling a team for the corporate relay? Or is it something you require your employees to do?
Tammy: No, difficulty putting a team together but, a lot of discussion over who’s running what leg…usually those that have done it once want to do it again because it’s so fun and a little competition is fun!
CL: Regardless of who sponsors the Corporate Relay, do you see Brown’s continuing to participate in the Corporate Relay?
Tammy: Yes, it is a wonderful TEAM building exercise!
CL: What does Brown’s do as a company to encourage more organizations to join the Corporate Relay?
Tammy: Facebook & Twitter, we’ve issued challenges in the past to other Charlottetown dealers–we also email all in our database and encourage our staff to spread the word!
Clearly, Brown’s VW and its employees are having fun while team building at the Corporate Relay, but we had to find out what other teams thought as well, so we rounded up another team that’s been running for a few years now: Cool Feet in Action.
Cool Feet In Action is the relay team for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which has a core group of about 5 runners and 3 others who change over. Formed by Dave MacNeil, the team first ran the PEI Marathon Corporate Relay in 2009 and brings together people from different areas within the CFIA each year. This doesn’t mean they get to practice together, because they do have several offices and sometimes, they don’t get to meet until Marathon Weekend. Some of the members are regular runners; others, occasional runners; still others, non-runners who are willing to cover shorter distances, leaving the longer stages of the Corporate Relay to the more experienced.
One of the runners, Program Officer Sandra Wright Shaw, has completed the Dublin and Athens marathons and continues to run as regular exercise; she has run the PEI Marathon with the CFIA team every year since 2009. Administrative Assistant Lori Noonan, on the other hand, is not a runner but enjoys participating in the Corporate Relay and will be back for her second run this year. On her 3rd year, Stacey Kuypers decided to join the team shortly after she moved to PEI nearly 4 years ago to stay active and be more involved with her colleagues. Dave MacNeil, who assembles the team each year, sees it as “a venue for personal goals and feeling the support from all other runners”—something newbies need to know so as not to be pressured by competition. He believes the relay race allows folks “of various experiences [to] each take a leg length that works for them” without losing the feeling of excitement and camaraderie from participating in the event. That camaraderie includes running with spouses, student interns, and colleagues from off-island. Because several of the team members sign up year after year, the few openings for new team members are quickly filled.
When asked about their team name, MacNeil says, “Our team name, Cool Feet in Action has the initials ‘CFIA’, which is the same for “Canadian Food Inspection Agency”. I think a good team name represents your organization, but is somewhat funky and is applied to running in some way.”
Besides bringing a team together, the Corporate Relay has brought the whole office together, as they have instigated coffee parties on Fridays where baked goods are sold to help raise the registration fees for the team. Besides the camaraderie and being a healthy activity, the Corporate Relay is a great team-building activity that generates a lot of fun.
Not all the runners see themselves participating in the full marathon, but that is not something they are totally avoiding. Besides Shaw who has run a couple of full marathons elsewhere, MacNeil has run the PEI Full Marathon a couple of times. As far as he is concerned, the PEI Marathon Corporate Relay has “great scenic landscapes, several events for participants of different levels, cool and comfortable October weather, and excellent organization by the Island Marathon group, with a clear route, and numerous water stops.”
The team members agree they are not in the marathon to win and focus on a safe run and possibly improving their overall time, although the offices have an ongoing wager on bragging rights to the trophy. Team Leader Dave MacNeil sums it up: “We do not expect to win the Corporate Relay, but this is not our goal. Our goal is to run a great event as a team, have new runners experience a running event in a supportive way, enjoy the landscapes of PEI, and have a laugh along the way.” Shaw adds, “It’s motivation to get active, get out and enjoy a day with my colleagues, cheer on each other (plus other participants), have a few laughs, enjoy our PEI scenery, take some awesome pictures, you only have to run a portion of the 42 Km, and in the end we all cross the finish line as one.”
We concur. See you at the finish line on October 16! ~cl