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Win4Youth – It’s Not the Destination; It’s the Journey

As part of the international Adecco Group, Adecco Canada participates every year in Win4Youth, a global sports initiative organized by Adecco to raise money for youth foundations around the world. After running in 2010, cycling in 2011, and performing triathlon activities in 2012, the Win4Youth 2013 program concentrates on achieving 500,000 km worth of running or walking. Participating in groups of three, all Adecco employees and clients in more than 60 countries are invited to participate in local or international events in person or virtually. For every kilometre covered, Adecco commits money to selected youth projects. In 2012 alone, Adecco, through the actions of its colleagues, has donated $360,000 USD for four different youth charities around the world. To date, Adecco has raised approximately $920,000 since the program’s inception.

Over the past year, two of our colleagues, Susan Brown and Suzanne Tremblay, have written about their experiences as Adecco Canada Win4Youth Ambassadors leading up to the main event, which occurred on November 10th: a marathon in Athens, Greece. Hot on the heels of their most recent contributions are their final blog posts for our 2013 Win4Youth initiative. To read even more about their experiences, you can find their previous blog entries here.

Bravo, Bravo, just keep running!

by Susan Brown
Susan BrownIt’s hard to believe that the Athens Classic Marathon has already come and gone. After 7 long months of training, then a day and a half of travelling to Greece, and finally, on November 10th, 2013, running for almost 5 hours to reach the finish line of the historic 42.2km course. Completing this challenge may have seemed daunting a few months ago but on the day I was strangely very calm; from the start line I had zero doubts about my ability to achieve success!

After the starting gun went off, a collective cheer erupted from the 1000’s surrounding me. Our Adecco team was all together and our shared nerves and excitement fueled us as we began to move forward toward start line; 13 minutes later, my first step onto the course! Oh yes, there were plenty of runners ahead of us; over 11,000 were registered, some in Greek costume, some looking very serious, many with iPods of some sort. I did not run with any music, I wanted to take in all the sights and sounds from start to finish.

I think the number of spectators lining the route numbered almost as many runners!! From little children to adults and some who were pretty elderly, everyone clapping and shouting “Bravo, bravo”!!! Now and then there was music blasting from sound systems along the course adding to the festive atmosphere, we even came upon a group of traditional dancers lined up like a scene from Zorba the Greek! From time to time my name would be yelled out “go Susan”, “good running Susan”.

After the Adecco group started to spread out, some faster some slower, I maintained a little trio for the first 6km, joined by Joan from USA and Tracy from New Zealand. Around the 5km mark, a little boy handed me a branch of olive leaves for good luck, we all took some of it and continued on running. Once the 10k mark was in sight, so was the hill… after climbing for some time my trio had broken up and I was on my own with still about 30k to go, “just keep running” I thought, you’ll get there. I focused only on half-way as a first goal.

22k in, “Wow I’m hot; how friggin hot out is it anyway and when is this hill gonna end…?” As I looked at those around me, many walking, some looking in a various levels of pain and discomfort, I realized I didn’t really have anything to complain about as my body felt good. I was strong and still running and off in the distance was another red shirt! My new goal was now to try and catch any fellow Adecco-ites. After some encouraging words shared I kept running.Suan Brown - Running

27k in, the relentless hill has started to make my muscles sore “A couple of shots of cortisone in the butt would be great about now”. I knew the hill would start to go down at 32k, just keep running, only a few more k’s to go until the ‘easy part’!!

Now into the last 5km of the course and I felt GREAT!! I had visualized this so many times in training, not just the sights and sounds but the feelings as well. The crowds were getting even bigger, the clapping faster, and the “Bravo’s” louder I was now living what I had practiced over and over, feeling strong, feeling fast, and feeling excited to enter the finishing stadium. As I turned into the Panathenaic Stadium emotions were bubbling up, now I’m feeling joy, hands raised, waving my olive branch, and smiling the biggest smile ever!

Susan Brown - FinishedAdecco CEO Patrick de Maeseneire was there to greet me, congratulating me as he put the medal around my neck. My fellow Ambassadors who had already finished were all still there as well and I joined the team sharing the spirit of our accomplishment and cheering in the remaining Ambassadors.

Every one of us successfully made it to the finish line; achieving a goal not only for ourselves but for you as well! Every step I ran I knew I could not give in, I was representing my Adecco Canada colleagues and only my very best would do. I was also representing Win4Youth and this Marathon was a dedication to the efforts of all of you who have walked and run throughout the year to achieve our collective goals.

And we aren’t finished yet! Please keep logging your mileage up to December 16th, doing good for yourself, for team spirit, and most importantly so we can ensure the greatest success for W4Y charities! “Bravo, bravo” and keep on running!

My last blog or One for All and All for One

Suzanne Tremblayby Suzanne Tremblay

Timeline:

  • March 6, 2013: My participation as an Adecco Canada representative in the Athens Classic Marathon is confirmed.
  • April 19 – 21, 2013: Training camp in Belgium and first encounter with my 77 super colleagues.
  • April to end of October 2013: Intensive training in preparation for “D” Day.
  • November 10, 2013: “D” Day, Athens Classic Marathon (42.2 km ran J).
  • November 10, 2013: 500,000km goal surpassed globally (Woooooohooooo!).

Development:

As you know, on March 6th, Adecco Canada and all other participating countries announced the successful applicants. Strong emotions and pride are on the agenda for me.

In April came the training camp in Belgium. We were challenged to COMPLETELY give ourselves up to the care of a team of professionals and the colleagues over at the camp and they supplied us with all of the tools we needed to succeed. Patrick De Maeseneire is there and tasks us with the mission of motivating the colleagues in our respective countries to achieve our goal of 500,000km. I come away from the weekend raring to go!

April to the end of October, intensive training:

  • I run, I doubt myself
  • I run, I gain confidence
  • I run, I’m scared (but I tell no one!)
  • I run, I receive lots of encouragement
  • I run, I’m ready!!!

Suzanne Tremblay - RunningThe first week of November: Anxiety sets in and keeps me up at night. The big trip is only days away, I’m excited to arrive at the start line!

November 8: I arrive in Greece and it’s the best experience of the year so far! Finally, my colleagues and I are reunited, like friends who haven’t seen each other in a long time – my 77 fellow colleagues, from all four corners of the planet, and my dear Susan with whom I’m reunited at last. What a comfort! We spend the evening and the next day together, catching up, eating and enjoying ourselves!

November 10: Up at 4:30-5:00 o’clock in the morning, breakfast and then we hop on a bus to the marathon city. We are thick as thieves. It’s laughter and joking around for some (myself included), and relaxation and concentration for others.

November 10, 9:13 a.m. : Ready or not, here we go!!!!

5 hours, 37 minutes and 27 seconds of enjoyment (and yes, a bit of suffering in between but I surmount it!). I could say that I savoured each moment of the marathon. The heat being with us that day – it was 28 degrees Celsius – I took the time I needed to finish the course on my own two feet and not those of the stretcher bearers.

Those who know me well won’t be surprised by the fact that I allowed myself a few displays of silliness during the marathon. Among these displays was a Greek dance with a group of senior citizens who came by to encourage runners along the side of the road. Yes, I joined their dance and then HOPA!, back into the melee of runners I went. I also made new friends along the marathon route. Unfortunately, DRATS, I forgot my business cards!

Obviously, in my preparations (as part of my marathon plan), I conserved enough energy for a final victory dance at the finish line.

And don’t forget the carrot at the end of the stick! Patrick De Maeseneire, presenting me with my medal at the finish line… VICTORY!

Later that day, it was still November 10th (what a day!), after a massage and a shower, I donned my high heels and fancy dress and we partied!

Conclusion
Susan & Suzanne 2In reality, this process has led me to share the following takeaway with you. It’s my discovery. Along the way to Athens, I discovered how strong a common goal can be. It’s one of those things that looks good on paper, is statistically possible, but in application can be hard to conceive.

Many of us had never run a marathon. Many of us weren’t athletes. Many of us had our fears and doubts. BUT, we all finished the marathon. We were there for each other. YOU were there to support me. Each one of us ran our own marathon, but we did it with the power of the group.

In there lies the beauty of this adventure. It’s the key to the box of memories that I will carry with me always:

ALL FOR ONE AND ONE FOR ALL!

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