Youve been looking for a way to build team spirit among your employees, but figure sending them to happy hour at the local tavern might not be very productive. How about sending them onto the race course?
On Aug. 15, more than 1,000 people will fill Northcoast Harbor to participate in the 13th annual National City Triathlon. Hundreds will leap into the waters of Lake Erie and swim nine-tenths of a mile, followed by a co-worker bicycling 23 miles through downtown and east side streets. A final team member will run 6.2 miles to complete the last leg of the race.
I think triathlon is still emerging as a sport, says Pam Blossom, director of marketing communications for Andersen Consulting, but I think that its catching on quickly in Cleveland.
Its apparently catching on with the rest of the world as well. When the 2000 Olympics convene in Sydney, Australia, the triathlon will become an official event. Also in 2000, Cleveland will be the site of the national relay championship.
Andersen Consulting will enter two teams into the IBM Corporate Relay Challenge competition. This is the seventh year the company has entered, Blossom says. The relay allows teams to compete instead of individuals, and they compete according to how each corporate organization is incorporated sole proprietorship, S Corp. or C Corp., explains Timothy M. Wicinski, director of operations of Pacific Sports, which manages the event.
Nearly 100 companies from around Northeast Ohio will send teams, and many of the same athletes compete from year to year. Says Blossom, Certainly, theres that camaraderie. Its good for that team building with employees that might not necessarily know each other very well. Its a good way for employees to share some common interests.
So how does a triathlon help a business? Blossom, says it hones team building and fires up the competitive juices. It also helps instill a sense of organizational pride.
The quality of the competitors has really encouraged them to rise above their abilities, she says. Theyre really challenged to put on their best performance.
In its most basic sense, preparing for the triathlon is no different than preparing for a grueling sales presentation or major business project. A small group of employees bands together and relies on each others abilities to succeed.
But no matter how good the trios are, they face stiff competition. For the past 12 years, a team from Omni Fitness Club has won the event, Wicinski says. In each of those years, Dave Garrett has been the cyclist on the winning team. That type of consistent excellence goes beyond just hard training.
Its a combination of the fact that were all individual athletes, Garrett says. That individual drive to succeed filters down into the whole team aspect. Its that, coupled with the fact that when we all get down there on Sunday morning and Joe Mackey (the clubs owner) is standing around, he just gets everybody really fired up. Theres a real devotion to the Omni.
Just as in the board room, everybody wants to win. The second runner-up was close, and I know theyll be coming full bore at us this year, Garrett says. So we all have to have our game faces on and be ready to go.
Garrett, an attorney at a downtown law firm, trains 200 to 300 miles a week. Dennis Mulvihill, an attorney with Lowe, Eklund and Wakefield, is the swimmer and Jeff Kho, a track coach at Olmsted Falls High School, is the runner.
One of the reasons I do this is because its fun, Mulvihill says. Its easy to let fitness take a back seat to everything else. This is something that forces me to get in shape for the August triathlon. Having two guys relying on me is something that makes me get in shape, because I dont want to let them down.
The club sends about 50 athletes, including mens, womens and coed teams. There have been years when weve won this thing by just scant seconds, Mackey says. And when youre out there two hours and you win by a few seconds, it means youre lucky lots of times.
The top competitors finish in less than two hours, while the stragglers could take as long as three.
Its a unique event, Wicinski says. It offers something other than happy hour for employees. It does help to build some good self-esteem and team work.
How to reach: Pacific Sports (216) 575-3166; Omni Fitness Club (440) 886-4545; Andersen Consulting (216) 781-3580