Virgin Pulse & Virgin Atlantic Team Up to Cycle 250 Miles for Charity!

VirginAtlantic_cycling_114Today, 40 cyclists from Virgin Pulse and Virgin Atlantic joined together to begin their Cycle USA charitable ride of over 250 miles! Cycle USA began as one of Virgin Atlantic’s initiatives to get Virgin employees “actively” involved in more charities by choosing a challenge (like cycling 250+ miles across all terrain), and then encouraging each volunteer to fundraise for that charity.

For the second year in a row, Virgin Pulse was more than happy to accept Virgin Atlantic’s invitation to team up with them this round as Virgin Pulse believes not only in living a healthy and active lifestyle, but in giving back to make the world a better, happier place.

While the cyclists have been training for weeks leading up to this, they’vealso all dedicated time to fundraising the selected charity for Cycle USA, Free the Children, an international organization that believes in a world where all children are free to achieve their fullest potential as agents of change. Which brings us back to…

BCThe 2014 Challenge: Complete set route from Boston to New York over three days, five states and a multitude of landscapes starting in Boston Common and finishing after a beautiful ride through Manhattan. The team was even cheered on by Virgin Atlantic flight attendants!

After this morning’s Boston Common sendoff, cyclists stopped over in Cochituate State Park for a well-deserved barbecue lunch! Rider Julian D’Sa, Virgin Atlantic took a break from the cornbread when asked about the ride and said, “Having a lot, a lot of fun. Beautiful countryside and a wonderful group. Constantly hungry.” Still 220 miles ahead? Understood!

After lunch, Virgin Pulse team member Jared Harris received a surprise recognition in the form of the illusive yellow jersey presented to him by Virgin Atlantic organizers for his commitment and success to raising money towards Free the Children. Here’s Jared in his new jersey!

The lunch also gave us a great chance to catch up with the team, hear their thoughts on what the ride means to them and what they’re expecting from this journey.

April Adema, Virgin Pulse, talked to us about the challenges: “The hardest part so far are the hills. It’s a bit of a mental game because you have to make sure you have just the right amount of space between the cyclists.” And Jamie McLeod, Virgin Pulse, added his enthusiasm, “I’m most excited about getting our non-cyclists to overcome their fear of riding for such a distance on back-to-back days. I think that will put us in a really great place; just fun to watch everyone get to that point.”

Our cyclists will keep us in the loop with live updates and pictures. Keep up with all the action on Twitter by following @VirginPulse and cheer the team on using #CycleUSA2014!

The View from the Top: Congrats, 2014 STRIVE Challenge Team!

The STRIVE Challenge achieves its goal at the top of the Matterhorn. Image by Jon Griffith, via Virgin.com

The STRIVE Challenge achieves its goal at the top of the Matterhorn. Image by Jon Griffith, via Virgin.com

For all of us who’ve been following, it’s been thrilling to track this year’s Virgin STRIVE Challenge participants. These inspiring people ran, biked, hiked and climbed their way from the middle of London to the 14,690-foot peak of the Matterhorn Summit, raising an impressive £570,000 for the Big Change charity along the way.

As we all know (but sometimes forget to remember), it’s both our successesand struggles that help us pave the way to achieving big goals. This week, the team realized this more than ever as they entered the last and most difficult leg of what’s been a month-long test of teamwork, stamina, strength and perseverance.

After losing one member to a wrist injury, the core team arrived Tuesday at the Schwarzee hut to an unwelcome surprise: snow. Forced to wait for icy conditions to improve, the Strivers kept their eyes on the prize. When they finally set out at 3 a.m. Wednesday morning, each of them pushed to (and beyond) their individual limits.

Case in point: Sam Branson, who began experiencing altitude sickness near the summit, insisted on completing the final distance despite some serious struggles, before being forced to board a helicopter for his trip back down the mountain (Richard says Virgin Group’s now sponsoring the London helicopter rescue service for the foreseeable future).

While most of us won’t be climbing the Matterhorn anytime soon, tracking the Strive Challenge over the past month has been a powerful reminder that “life’s a journey, not a destination,” as Ralph Waldo Emerson so insightfully said.

“One of the main lessons we learned from the Matterhorn attempt was how to manage disappointment,” the Strive team wrote in a blog.

“In an ideal world with perfect conditions, we would have all made it to the top of the mountain together. However, with climbers of different skill levels, strong winds and chill, reaching the summit together would have been all but impossible. When it comes down to the wire, the safety of the Core Team was far more important than the glory of hitting the summit and we couldn’t be more proud of our Strivers for all of their achievements. After all, they have ran 3 marathons, cycled over 1000 km and hiked the Haute Route.”

When setting and pursuing healthy goals, it can be easy to get caught up on small set-backs, rather than maintaining focus on the finish line. This year’s STRIVE challenge was a great reminder of how important it is to take each day as it comes while celebrating the small daily wins that help us hit those big achievements.

Congratulations to every participant in this year’s STRIVE Challenge. With each mile, pedal pump and Alpine knee, you’ve shown us that the “impossible” is possible when you work together, test your limits, and set your sights high. We can’t wait to see what you accomplish next!

 

Did the STRIVE challenge inspire you to set new milestones? Share with us in the comments below!

STRIVE CHALLENGE: Tracking the Team into the Final Leg

Strivers read some encouragement en route. (via Instagram @bransonsam)

In their final leg of the first-annual Virgin Group Strive Challenge, the 11 person core team has run, biked and hiked their way into the home stretch of a more than 600 mile journey. Along the way, the team’s faced victories (and a few rough patches – we’re looking at you, Tropical Storm Bertha), showing just how much they’re capable of and how far a team working toward a common mission can accomplish almost anything.

In support of the UK’s Big Change, the team will wrap the Strive Challenge on September 4, celebrating their success at the summit of Europe’s iconic Matterhorn (nearly 15,000 feet!). As they climb their way to victory, we wanted to take a look their journey and some of their standout achievements to date.

Sam Branson proudly showcasing steps earned from the marathon on his Max device. (via Twitter @sambranson)

Running: Kicking off on August 7 from London’s O2 Dome, the core team ran more than three marathons in three days, joined by crowds of supporters (including our own Fran DeYoung, who ran the final race leg) along the trek to Dover’s picturesque coast line, some 78.6 miles away.

Rowing: On August 11, the core team came together to row their way across the English Channel to Boulogne-Sur-Mer in Northern France. Unfortunately, the team was forced back to harbor by Tropical Storm Bertha.

Biking: Pushing past their disappointment, the team got right back on track to spend the next eight days cycling the nearly 1,050 miles between Boulogne-Sur-Mer to Verbier, Switzerland.

Strivers cheering at the end of their cycling leg. (via Instagram @richardbranson)

There were some stumbles along the way as a few riders came off their bikes mid-course, but the team worked together to ensure no Striver was left behind. In the final miles, none other than Sir Richard Branson swung by to say hello and encourage the team to push through to the end.

Hiking: Today, the core team’s climbing their way through final leg of the Strive Challenge – a seven-day trek through the grueling Summer Haute Route, a journey that typically takes nine days.

As the core team wraps the challenge of a lifetime, their achievements remind us how business can be a force for good and that when working together toward a common mission, people can do amazing things.

Good luck in the final week, Strivers! We’ll be (mentally) cheering you on at the finish.

You can join in on Strive, too! Track the core team’s daily progress and social updates and share them socially or consider donating to help drive the Strive mission. Don’t forget to check back here, and follow @VirginPulse for updates! 

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Virgin Pulse clients and members discuss how we change lives for good!

Virgin Pulse clients and members discuss how we change lives for good!