On 2 September, Hallenstadion on Wallisellenstrassein Zurich became the site where about 2,400 runners from up to 163 different companies gathered together to take on 6 km.
B2RUN has been all across Switzerland this year, visiting St. Gallen, Geneva, Bern, Kreuzlingen and Basel during the month of June, and finally finding its way here to Zurich as the grand finale for this InfrontRingier — organized sporting event.
I was wondering why there were not many spectators besides myself, several professional cameramen, and the occasional family friend or colleague from certain companies. And yet, by the time the gun was about to go off and the starting line was already prepared, the streets right outside Hallenstadion were full to the hilt with thousands of participants, all bedecked in the colors of their company — from strong reds and stark whites, to bright orange hues. Everyone had their game face on and looked absolutely ready for the 6 km run from and to the stadium.
I realized that this was not about who was watching, but it was instead a celebration for each company that was participating, a time to awaken team spirit and enjoy an active lifestyle.
This run was about reviving team morale and bringing company members closer together by taking them outside the context of the office, and having them put on their running shoes.
With up to 14,000 participants this entire year for B2RUN, event organizer InfrontRingier donates CHF 1 for each participant, totaling up to CHF 14,000 given to Laureus Girls in Sport.
Before the run was to commence, team members gathered around benches to have group photos taken with big smiles on their faces, while some were armed with their MP3 Players and headphones to help them with their speed throughout the event. Others were doing a bit of a warm-up on their own around the stadium grounds and even more began to gather at the official warm-up zone just minutes before the runners were released helter skelter onto the asphalt.
It was happy mayhem as the event began, with a B2RUN official vehicle and motorbike at the front of the pack, a tracking device at the start and finish lines carefully positioned, and the group of more than 2,000 participants released in two large groups. Prominent athletes Céline Schärer and Carlos Lima lead the several thousand-strong group of running enthusiasts.
There were cheers from bystanders as each runner jumped into the challenge, having us see at the very back of the pack what seemed to be about 40 Nordic walkers, ready to take on the same stretch as the runners, whether they finished speedily, or slowly.
The fastest runner for B2Run Zurich was Eawag's Urs Schönenberger finishing in 19 minutes flat, while the fastest of the women was KPMG's Aude Salord coming in at 21:55.
A few runners concluded at around 25 minutes, with intermediate ones clocking in at the half-hour mark. A majority came in red-faced, happy, and sweating, at about 45 minutes. Some stragglers followed shortly after.
There were runners who seemed exhausted by the final stretch, while others who seemed to have been reserving all their powers for the last 400 meters into the finish line.
The run proved to achieve what it was meant to — inside the stadium was a chorus of joyous voices talking over the disco din, many individuals talking about running crises they had to overcome during the course of the run or how wonderful it was to be cheered on by team mates as they worked on completing the entire stretch.
There is something about the joy of moving, and the simple act of putting on your running shoes and beginning.
Over plates of hot pasta with tomato sauce and giant plastic cups of frothy beer, people slapped each other on the backs, got out of their sweaty gear to get dressed up for the cool autumn evening outside.
This run was a break for everyone — a way to forget the office and deadlines, a way to connect with your body, and the people you were running with.