Triathlon Team at the Wanaka Challenge

The Finn Bennie Lindberg, a former world class triathlete, today a gigathlete, trainer and author, supervises the Memmert employees where matters of fitness, sport and health are involved. He accompanied the team to New Zealand as coach and motivator. This is his report about self-discipline, feelings of euphoria and courage.

What would it be like to fly to the other side of the globe, from icy winter to summer, to spend a week visiting customers in New Zealand and Australia and in between, take part in a triathlon? Could such an undertaking even succeed, burdened as it was with long journeys, different time zones and admittedly, too little training preparation? The idea for this had been formed some time ago. After entering several relay teams with company teams in the Quelle Challenge in Roth, sport, or to be more specific, triathlon, has now become a firm part of Memmert culture. Now it was time for the next step: the Wanaka Challenge in New Zealand. On 12th January 2009 the Memmert team lands in Christchurch.

After 29 hours travelling, and a time delay of 12 hours, the body is desperate for a night’s sleep, but after 30 minutes of light jogging, a few gymnastic exercises and a shower, you feel like a new person. What is more difficult is trying to stay awake as long as possible so that the body can adjust as quickly as possible to the new time zone.After the customer meeting the next day the journey south begins, some 600 km in length. Most people associate the southern island with green rain forests, high snow-covered mountain peaks, glaciers and fjord landscapes, but you come across these only occasionally in the vicinity of Wanaka. In beaming sunshine we are met by breathtaking scenery, dominated by the deep-blue Lake Wanaka and green mountains, treeless for the most part. On the evening before the competition it starts pouring with rain and the atmosphere immediately cools down a few degrees, as no improvement is forecast for the next few days. But right on time for the start, at 7 in the morning, it stops raining at least! Swimming 3.86 km in the crystal-clear, 16-degree water of the mountain lake. Our participant Christiane Riefler-Karpa and lone warrior Carsten Angermeyer put on a brave show. No personal best times, but the professionals don’t fare any better. Conditions are simply not ideal. At first sight the cycling tempo seems to be very fast. Not too many long or steep hills, if it wasn’t for the very rough road surface.

A very strong wind also arose on the day of the competition, making this a very tough 180 km. The Memmert team is now pushing itself to the limits. The missing training kilometres for Carsten Angermeyer and team cyclist Ronald Mühe take their toll. So the race is a real challenge for both of them! Our small group carries on the fight. The running stage is also relatively flat, with one short steep section followed by quite a long stretch down the mountain. It runs for the most part next to the water and is simply wonderful! Peter Krieger, the runner, crosses the finishing line euphorically with the rest of the relay team, whereas Carsten makes the difficult but sensible decision to give up the marathon course after 8 kilometres. One hour training per week as preparation is simply not enough. As a consequence, his stomach goes on strike, and since the next business appointment will take place only 36 hours later in Australia, he has to face the facts, even though that hurts right now.

But this is how things always are in life, in sport and in business. You need to find the courage to face up to difficult challenges and do all you can to overcome them. On the other hand you also have to be brave enough to realise when it is better to stop. There will always be a next time, one with better omens. Back in our lodge, we drink a glass of champagne and fall into bed, exhausted. On the next day we pack and drive back to Christchurch. Not even 36 hours after crossing the finishing line in Wanaka we land at the airport in Melbourne, ready for the next customer visit. To finish things off I give a motivational lecture to the backdrop of the latest pictures from Wanaka. This is followed by the long flight back home, as well as changing the clocks for the second time within a short period. This is tough, but our venture was an absolute success in every respect – in terms of both business and sport!