Picture the scene: Sun shining, the Welsh wind blowing through our hair as we snake through the country lanes of the beautiful Brecon Beacons in our makeshift Vive-mobile, hired from some poor sod on EasyCarClub (ye, we haven't heard of it either) who thinks we need it in Central London for the weekend. Windows down (apart from the broken one), as we make our way to the UKChallenge gala dinner and a well-deserved rest. Life really couldn't be better. Well, that was until the sound of laughter and animated discussion of our day's challenges was punctured, literally.
We pull-up onto the side of the road and our eyes flit between hopelessly looking at each other and eyeing up the fat, flat wheel normally more at home in the streets of Central London than the parched, sheep-trodden turf of Welsh farmland. Wondering who is best placed to be the final superhero of the day and solve the impromptu Stage 9 of the UK Challenge, all looks lost before, out of nowhere, Three Lions comes on the radio because England have beaten Sweden to reach a first world cup semi final in years. Our sighs of frustration are almost unanimously swapped for cheers of celebration, the like of which has never been seen on Welsh land in reaction to an English victory. Suddenly everything seems alright in the world. 'Almost' because our team consists of four English, one other and you guessed it, one Swede!
With the Royal Airforce team quickly altering their acronym from RAF to AA, our car is just about back on the road and we crawl home like an athlete on their last legs. We never thought we'd be so happy to be going back to the University digs that has become our temporary home for the last few days. Well, I call it a home but in reality, it's been more of a military base for 4 hours kip, a breakfast on the go whilst rubbing sleep out of our eyes and a place where we could temporarily shelter from the sweltering Costa Del Swansea sun. We've barely had time to brush our collective teeth or even have a shower but somehow morale has remained incredibly high. Why?
Well, this is the UKChallenge, the world's biggest corporate team-building event. It's designed to push you to your limit, to be relentless, to test your team's spirit. It's even in the bloody name! Boy has it challenged us and more.
Over three excruciating days, we've canoed, cycled and ran all over some of the most breathtaking and awesome scenery that this country (and quite frankly any country in the world in this weather) has to offer. All the while, our team's intellect, leadership, and strategy capabilities have been tested to the full by some incredibly complex mental challenges.
From canoeing across a lake to control water tank levels at shore-side villages, to delivering medicines on time to rural communities and deciding how and where to invest our Japanese Yen in an exhilarating investment stage, we've thrown ourselves behind all of the eight challenges on offer. Thrown ourselves much further than the catapult we had to design and build in stage 6 (see our somehow proud picture below) could throw a small ball anyway!
Luckily, the catapult was not wholly symbolic of our overall performance as we made our UKChallenge debut. We performed remarkably well considering the level and dedication of the teams we were competing against, finishing just outside the top 30 of the 80-team field. We even beat a number of high profile investment companies in finishing sixth in the investment stage (shout out to the Vive International Corporation CEO, Ant Moran, here). Vive Investments LLP anybody?
What really puts our team's efforts into sharper context is the fact that not one of our team members had met all of the other team members before the event. A mishmash team made up of: the Co-founder, his cousin and his cousin's girlfriend (who also just happens to be a double-Olympic champion), Vive's resident intern and two subscribers who drew the short straws.
People who were no more than strangers just three days earlier, suddenly feel like family we've known for years, united by an unbreakable bond of effort, personality and teamwork (not forgetting the punctured tyre) in what was a truly unforgettable and unique experience.
Now, does anyone know where the nearest Kwik Fit is?