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11. June 2015

MEPLAN goes Sparta

At lot of mud and even more fun, or why there is a good reason to crawl through the mire with fellow workers on a Saturday afternoon. “Go MEPLAN, go!” The cheering calls of their colleagues managed to bring smiles on the mud-smeared faces of the MEPLAN team members, boosting morale. And support was definitely […]

At lot of mud and even more fun, or why there is a good reason to crawl through the mire with fellow workers on a Saturday afternoon.

"Go MEPLAN, go!" The cheering calls of their colleagues managed to bring smiles on the mud-smeared faces of the MEPLAN team members, boosting morale. And support was definitely needed, because the MEPLAN team has taken up a very special sporting challenge this year—the Spartan Race, one of the hardest steeplechases in Germany.

 Mud-slinging no holds barred!

And so on April 18th, Munich's usually more contemplative Olympic Park turned into a gigantic obstacle-course racing spectacle, which only one year after its premiere in Germany enjoys a surprising popularity. Starting out in several waves, more than 5,500 audacious Spartans, male and female, flung themselves into the crazy mud-slinging with a bold "arooo" battle cry. Right in the middle of it our 6-member MEPLAN team—perfectly styled in branded running shirts and full of enthusiasm.

 "Testing limits and reaching the goal together"

But what is it that drives people to dive through the Olympic lake at frosty 13 degrees Celsius, clamber up the stairs of the Olympic stadium loaded with sandbags and crawl through the mud, side by side with total strangers? The figures speak for themselves. Almost unknown until a few years ago, the so-called obstacle courses have developed into to an absolute trend. Whether "Tough Mudder", "XLETIX Challenge", "Braveheart Battle" or "No-Mercy Run", the choice of obstacle runs offered in Germany has meanwhile hit the two-digit range, and rising sharply.

"The opportunity to test one's sporting limits, while standing together as a team and jointly reaching the finish line, that is the greatest attraction of such an event for me", Daniel Gundelach, Divisional Director MARKETING & CONSULTING, who was himself part of the MEPLAN team, explains his motivation for this somewhat different company run.

Sooner or later, almost all participants hit their limits. Observing the motley crowd of runners, emotions varied from a triumphant smile up to tears of exhaustion, and some seemed to ask themselves why exactly they were dragging car tires through the Olympic Park with a horde of like-minded on a Saturday afternoon.

Technique versus endurance

Whether running, climbing, swimming, crawling or throwing—more than 15 energy-draining obstacles had to be mastered on the close to six-kilometre course. The first obstacle after the start required participants to climb the "Olyberg". Here already, one could tell that many a participant who started out highly motivated had to throttle their speed, at the latest on the upper stretch of the hill. Then followed a series of water, mud and climbing obstacles with names like barb wire crawl or spear throw, some sounding rather more fiercely than they actually were. But the first impression is confirmed: participating here not only requires steady nerves, one must also be a little crazy.

Other obstacles, such as rope climbing, required primarily skill and technique, whereas dragging 20-kilo-sandbags were a drain on endurance and power reserves, bringing some participants almost close to despair. Giving up or skipping a particular obstacle was not an option, because those who couldn't manage one of the obstacles had to do 30 debilitating burpees as penalty.

One for all and all for one

Runners of the Sparta elite team who had qualified in previous races completed the course including obstacles in just short of three quarters of an hour. MEPLANers however had decided not to compete as individual athletes, but to master the race as a team.

"Important for us in this event was the team-building factor," MEPLAN Managing Director Ute-Désirée Hagedorn explains why she decided to participate in the Spartan Race.

Joining forces was required to ensure that all team members actually reached the finish line, because the time of the last one counted as benchmark for the team score. Thus muddy, helping hands were extended, support given to complete the much-hated burpees, and through mutual motivation and with a dauntless fire jump, the entire team actually made it to the well-deserved goal.

 Larissa Lilje

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