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! 

TAKING THE PLUNGE TO SUPPORT ALS

DSC_0202Sir Richard Branson recently completed the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and donated to the cause, nominating all Virgin Group companies and employees to follow suit.

Despite last week’s chilly temperatures here in the Boston area, Virgin Pulse stepped up to the plate. More than 60 Virgin Pulse employees joined our CEO, Chris Boyce, in accepting Sir Richard’s nomination to support the ALS Association (ALSA) by donating and filming our own Ice Bucket Challenge.

See how it went down in our video below!

 

Now, we’re nominating all Virgin Pulse members, clients and partners. Film your own video, post it to social sites using #IceBucketChallenge with a @VirginPulse mention, and don’t forget to donate! For every Twitter post featuring a unique Ice Bucket Challenge video, along with the hashtag and Virgin Pulse mention, we’ll donate $1 – up to $500.

Wondering how the Ice Bucket Challenge is making a difference and why Virgin Pulse took the plunge? 

  1. The Virgin Group uses business as a force for good to benefit people and the planet, and at Virgin Pulse we’re committed to changing lives for good. Accepting Richard’s nomination is right in line with the mission driving our organization and we’re happy to help raise awareness and funds for ALSA.
  2. #IceBucketChallenge went viral weeks ago, and is gaining major attention. In fact, ALSA has reported it’s received more than $79.7 million in support of the cause – compared to $2.5 million from the same time period (7/29 – 8/25) last year.
  3. Donations have come from both existing donors and 1.7 million new ones – meaning the campaign is succeeding in its goal of raising not just money, but awareness too.

Did you already accept a nomination and film your own #IceBucketChallenge? Share your videos!

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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!