Win4Youth 2016 | Part 1: Ghent, Belgium Training Camp – “We rode bikes without any brakes!”
Tracy Rocca—Adecco’s VP of Partnerships— learned in April that she was selected to represent Canada as our Win4Youth ambassador for 2016. Before starting her journey, she had never completed a triathlon and could barely swim. But it was Tracy’s passion, tenacity and commitment to the cause that made her the frontrunner for this year’s ambassadorship.
Tracy and 72 other Adecco ambassadors from across the world will be participating in the Ocean Lava Lanzarote Triathlon in Spain this October. The event will mark the finale to the 2016 Win4Youth Initiative: a 10-month long journey in which Adecco employees, associates and clients across the world run, swim and cycle to accumulate mileage towards a collective kilometer goal. Once the goal is met, Adecco makes a substantial donation to various global foundations that support disadvantaged children and their families. This year, we’re jogging, swimming and biking towards an ambitious 3,500,000km goal!
Our ambassadors spend months working with trainers, improving their strength and endurance, running in marathons, and organizing Win4Youth fitness and fundraising events. The training sessions intensify with a spring boot camp where ambassadors are put through a series of challenges and track their growth. This year, the kickoff training camp took place in beautiful Ghent, Belgium where Tracy made her country proud by successfully crossing the finish line and treading in open water just weeks after learning how to swim! Tracy jotted down her wide range of emotions throughout the boot camp in a journal. Excerpts are below:
Training Camp Reflections:
My role as a Win4Youth ambassador is only just beginning yet I already feel like it has been quite a journey! When friends, family and colleagues learned that I was selected as the ambassador and what it would entail, I was met with some puzzled faces and a whole bunch of questions: “Why are you doing this?”, “Do you own kettle bells?”, and “Have you completed a triathlon before?!” Their alarm was somewhat warranted: I barely knew how to swim and you’d never find a marathon number stapled to my back (although I have completed the 60km walk for women’s cancers 7 times)!
Growing up I was very active and into sports, and still play competitive hockey and soccer to this day; I just rarely participated in solo sports. Well, the triathlon I signed up for is sure to change that now that I will be competing in three individual sports merged into one!
But before I’m able to get to Lanzarote in October, I had to get through this kick off training camp— which was an amazing experience and very humbling! It took place in the picturesque and historic city of Ghent, Belgium. Arriving in Ghent, I was surprised to see how many people used bikes as their primary mode of transportation and how natural it seemed to them— they were speeding by and maneuvering Europe’s winding cobble-stoned paths with ease.
The rest of the day was dedicated to getting to know my 72 colleagues from 37 countries— each being a Win4Youth ambassador from their respective country. Before long we formed an incredibly unique and supportive bond amongst each other, driven by our shared goals of getting through the training and making a real impact through Win4Youth. Within the group, only a small number had completed triathlons before, while the rest were novices like me. I was relieved!
Training began at 7am and lasted until 8pm every day. We had 4 very long days of non-stop physical activities, sandwiched in between fitness seminars and various health and stamina tests:
- On the first full day, we made our way to the velodrome where we rode bikes without any brakes! Most of us were more than a little frightened when we saw them, but we were expecting to be taken out of our comfort zones that week. No injuries for me to report!
- The second day began with a “dip” in the crisp pool at 7am followed by a visit to the Energy Lab for our individual meetings with the doctor, physical testing and a trip through body scan machine. The amount of detail those machines can show you are both impressive and alarming, and truthfully— the body scan machine and I are not the best of friends! The day wrapped up with a few sessions on mechanics such as clipping our shoes into the pedals of our bikes, along with a 20km bike ride.
- The third day consisted mainly of classroom learning and lessons about transition zones, nutrition and much more. Like every other day, there was a form of physical activity included. Well, that day it was…a mock triathlon! We went to a gorgeous lake and were fitted with wetsuits. In I went. Not only was the water a chilly 10 degrees, but the open water came as a real shock to me! Did I mention that I had just learned to swim a few week earlier?We all made it back to shore and hopped through the transition areas from the water to the road. Once there, we moved straight into our 20km bike ride, followed by the transition to our 3km run! It was VERY challenging, but I couldn’t slow down and give into self-pity. Besides, I reminded myself that this was only a fraction of what we will have to complete in Lanzarote in October which will consist of a 1,500m swim, 40km bike ride and a 10km run!
- The final day began in the pool once again, but this time, we videotaped our swim technique to review later and went on a 10km city run with 3000 other people from Ghent. This was my first ever 10km race. I wasn’t fast but I did make it across that finish line!
That night ended with a special dinner, celebrating our new friendships and our successful training over the last 4 days. The support for each other on social media and through emails has been incredible.
My ambassadorship is just starting out but has already benefited me in so many ways. It has given me pride in myself and my company, a sense of accomplishment and a new set of skills. Our training plans are loaded and I am ready to go. I look forward to joining my fellow Adecco colleagues, clients and associates in running, walking, biking and swimming over the next few months as every kilometer really does count!
The above is only the first step of Tracy’s ambitious journey. She will continue to track all the highs and lows leading up to Lanzarote this October. Check back in on this blog over the summer for Tracy’s complete Win4Youth ambassador experience.
All the exciting highlights from the training camp can be seen in the video below:
About Adecco’s Win4Youth Initiative:
Now in its seventh year, Win4Youth supports foundations giving children and families in need a better start in life. Since its inception, Win4Youth has raised over $2 million USD for youth charities through sports events organized in more than 60 countries, involving thousands of Adecco employees, associates and clients around the world. In 2016, we will be swimming, cycling and running to reach the goal of 3,500,000 kilometers. The combined kilometer count will be converted into a donation to 9 foundations, supporting abandoned, orphaned or sick children, helping families from disadvantaged communities and assisting civilian victims of natural disasters, wars and economic collapse. Adecco employees will also be volunteering at the foundations, helping them in daily operations and learning first-hand how Win4Youth supports their work.