It takes a special kind of crazy to be over-the-moon delighted at the prospect of running 12 kilometres up and down a hill in snow which reached 1 meter of depth. But a few weekends ago I was just that, snapping a few pictures of the sparkling landscape and sending bright messages to anyone who would listen.
My colleagues and I had decided that especially when you live and work so far apart, it is very valuable to save some time away from work and do something together. While I called it a romp in the snow, we termed it “Teambuilding” to give it a more official note. It all started a bit problematically. The accommodation I had booked was far up the ski slope (and amazing and beautiful and a great price). Due to its location we discovered that had to make a 19.20 train, or we wouldn’t be able to get there. As you can possibly predict, we therefore started the “Teambuilding” weekend by leaving part of our team behind. Not only had four of the members been forced to cancel for a variety of reasons, these last two had not received my late memo containing the info regarding the train.
On the plus side we persuaded the owners to send a ski-do down to get them, which meant they had a far cooler form of transportation up the hill.
A pasta dinner, easy conversation and plenty of laughter rounded out the first evening. Saturday was almost entirely taken up with the run. I had completely miss-judged how long it would take to get around a course which was either knee-deep in the snow, or on surfaces which were turning to ice. The run was of course, not just a simple run in the snow, but an obstacle course race which involved a lot of crawling. Crawling under logs, crawling under a lorry/truck, crawling under more logs, crawling under a snow plowand crawling under a net were all key features. In between these there were some more diverse obstacles- running along a particularly slippery surface (which, after 2000 people had plodded around the course once, was nothing in comparison to some of the other parts of the route), a few downhill slides, a “hurricane” where the already thick and still falling snow was supplemented by a snow cannon, and a station where we were pelted with snowballs by enthusiastic young volunteers.
Most definitely the best and most dangerous bit was the decent from the high point of the hill back to the start, where we embarked on a second loop or sprinted into the finish. After a serious long trudge to that high point, the steep, snowy slope was a high-speed slip and slide. We ran, we fell, we slid, we rolled. All around us were screams and yelps and the occasional complaint as someone’s backside found the rocks which were slowly being uncovered by thousands of feet.
As a teambuilding activity, I am not sure this was the best choice. Yes, we waited for and encouraged each other, but the sheer number of obstacles which were only really suitable for individuals meant that we did not really have to work together to get through the course. And as usual for these large events, the queues for the obstacles started off as very long, leaving us shivering and cold (and a little miserable) for quite a few of the sections. So, although I think everyone had fun, the return to the chalet, with hot showers, delicious raclette, endless snacks and wine were considered the a real treat. It was in the evenings, over conversations, jokes and friendly teasing, as well as ocasional conversations about the year ahead, we had the bonding experience I had been expecting.