Berlin, 12 March 2022 – The Vasa race is THE event in Sweden. Everybody, young and old alike, race this annual cross-country skiing event through the snow-covered Swedish forests. This year, we were also part of the party! Want to know why? Thomas Feder, Senior Art Director of the Berlin team, reports: To mark the 100th anniversary of the Vasa race, IBM, as one of the main sponsors, has developed a personalised digital review site for all participants. It provides information about the stages, photos taken during the race, and interesting comparisons with past runners. In order to get the new feature off the ground, the Berlin-based IBM iX team set out to take part in the race together with the Swedish team.
After arriving in Stockholm, we continued our journey with our Swedish colleagues to Mora, the venue of the big event. Four hours, nine McDonald’s combo meals, and at least ten Abba songs later, we finally arrived at our accommodation and collapsed into bed, totally exhausted. We got to know each other better over a hearty breakfast. We found that seeing each other in person was much better, but somehow everyone was shorter than we expected. Soon, the dream weather lured us outside. In sporty outfits designed for any temperature, we were shortly on our way into town to get a first impression of the event location. From afar, we could hear music and a voice on the loudspeaker commenting on the race currently underway. Finally, we arrived at the finish line of the Vasaloppet racetrack—surrounded by spectators and athletes in ski gear. The atmosphere was great, and our anticipation of the race grew.
After we had only checked out the situation on the first day, it became serious. We threw our ski outfits on and off we went on the slopes or Loipe, which is the cross-country skiing trail. We were to cover an entire 10 kilometers cross-country skiing. It soon became clear: we had no idea what we were getting into! Even the first few meters were a challenge—falling down, getting up, continuing on, falling down again. It was already clear that we would all be quite sore afterwards. Nevertheless, we got into skiing and had huge fun at the race, which led us for miles through a picturesque landscape in bright sunshine. Arriving at the finish line, we were rewarded with a medal and were very proud of our athletic performance. With lasting strength, we were able to enjoy the invigorating dinner on the event grounds and recover from our falls for the rest of the day.
After we had successfully mastered the race as absolute beginners, there came the highlight: we all received our personal results—our own Vasa story. For us, this was not only the result of what we accomplished on skis the day before, but also the result of our past months spent in front of our PCs. We were literally holding our finished product in our hands, and we were enthusiastic about it, just like so many of the runners. We presented our project at the IBM Promotion booth, giving insights into its creation, and celebrated ourselves. It was a wonderful day full of meetings, exchange, and positive feedback.
With many impressions, skills (cross-country skiing), bruises, and especially a wonderful team building experience (the likes of which has become very rare since the COVID-19-pandemic), we set off homeward again. But that’s not all: due to the positive response, plans are already underway for a summer edition of the Vasastory. So put on your running shoes and start your endurance training! A big thank you goes to the Swedish team around Mark Holmgren, and of course to our colleagues here in Berlin: Thomas Göthe, Thomas Feder, Theresa Schmidt, René Machel, Ellis Bartlett, and Christian Wenske.
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