Unbeaten together

Opticos Challenge 2020 - with a Covid-19 twist

I have to be honest – for me, the most important part of our organization is my colleagues and I care about them. Only a few years ago we were small and I knew everyone in the company. But, with new offices and an increasing number of colleagues, it’s difficult to maintain a sense of “One Opticos”. Especially in today’s technological and always-connected environment. We can all work from anywhere which allows for great productivity. However, it could potentially isolate and take time from the face-to-face experience. Why not combine something that is healthy with something we can do together?

Opticos supports a healthy lifestyle and we have found that a good way to connect with each other is to exercise together. May it be a joint workout at the gym nearby during the lunch break? A morning run before work, or in this case, train for and run a race together. We believe running is a great way to step outside of the formal environment at work. It’s a great way to get to know each other and informally discuss what is on our minds, whether it is work-related or not. Many of us meet on a weekly basis, but still, we don’t necessarily know a lot about each other. Running enables us to foster deeper relationships and to show a different side of ourselves. Our incentive for this challenge is to engage with each other in a way that isn’t related to our day-to-day work.

That’s why I and a group of colleagues decided to train for the New York Marathon. Well, that was before it got canceled. During the time leading up to the race, which normally takes place in November, we planned not only train individually but as a group as well in order to encourage each other, as this was the first marathon for many of us. We planned to have structured training sessions following training programs that are individually adapted to each colleague’s goal for the race. Some of us have long experience of running and have a target time in mind, while some of us are relatively new to it and are fine with running the 42-kilometers at an even pace. We are all at different levels but it’s something for us to bond over. That’s the great thing about running, it is not only a personal challenge but also very sociable. As you know the Covid-19 pandemic prevented us from going this year, but it did not stop us from training for it! Now we have gained an additional year of training and we look forward to standing on the starting line 2021 instead.

We are using an app as the main platform to log our training sessions. The idea is to follow each other’s progression, get inspired and encourage each other. Research shows that exercising with friends, colleagues or even strangers is contagious (pun intended), so by spreading information – we hope to see the team grow. That is still a good idea – even due to the cancellation of not only Göteborgsvarvet, but also New York Marathon 2020.

At Opticos, we want to go from being individual runners, running to stay fit or as a hobby, to start running together and as a team at different races. As Christopher McDougall wrote in his book Born to run“The reason we race isn’t so much to beat each other,… but to be with each other.” For us, it’s not so much about the race itself but the journey to get there.

In times of change and Covid-19 we need to inspire ourselves and others even more, we will be posting updates in the future about our journey leading up to different races, so stay tuned to find out how it all went once we have crossed the finish line – wherever that finish line is.

Richard Orrebrant

Fun facts: Opticos, founded 10 years ago in Gothenburg. The city is well known among other things for hosting the most popular half-marathon, and second most popular road race, in the world; Göteborgsvarvet (also canceled in 2020). We thought it only fitting that for our 10th anniversary take on the challenge of participating in the most popular road race in the world; The New York Marathon. It is a bit ironic that the marathon never did make it to the 50th anniversary this year but we are looking forward to next year instead.

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