WORDS: Jeremy Wadia, Chief Operating Officer
“So, I’ve got this friend… he’s an amateur triathlete and he’s just qualified for a place at the World Ironman Championships in Hawaii, where he has to cycle 112 miles (180km), swim 2.4 miles (4km) and finish with a 26.2 mile (42km) run! But he’s got to raise some cash to get there. Any chance Miniclip can help him?”
This was pretty much how it all started a few months back, when we embarked on our sponsorship of Raphael Vorpe, a 30-year-old triathlete from the Bernese Jura region of Switzerland. Raphael, a friend of Melissa from our Swiss HQ, has been competing in triathlon events for many years and has recently decided to try his hand at the Ironman Triathlon. The Ironman is probably the toughest physical challenge an athlete can face, taking around 17 hours to complete without a single break! Raphael’s most recent result was a highly impressive 36th place in the Ironman Wales. After many qualification events, he has now achieved his dream of gaining a place in the Ironman World Championships, which takes place in Hawaii on Saturday 12th October.
Here at Miniclip, we have always tried to help good causes when we can, in particular through supporting employees in their charitable fundraising efforts. We’ve always believed in encouraging each other to take some social responsibility and that’s why we decided to affiliate each of our offices to a local charity, and do things like give our staff extra paid holiday for time spent working with charities. We’ve had guys in the UK climbing mountains for Teenage Cancer Trust, teams in Switzerland running half-marathons for Le Foyer des Jeunes, which helps troubled teenagers, and staff in the US have been providing food parcels for Jack and Jill Children’s Center, who help children from lower income families.
As well as our charitable contributions, we also wanted to get involved with some smaller “grass roots” sponsorship of activities linked to our employees. Previously we’ve sponsored the soccer teams of the sons of two employees, in Florida and in London, as well as a budding Swiss fashion student who was the best friend of an HQ employee; we’re super-pleased to say that she managed to get an internship in New York and now is in Paris with Louis Vuitton!
With Raphael, we decided that here was a young man with a passion for sport and pushing himself to reach a goal which could inspire all of us at Miniclip, as well as young people in Switzerland and beyond. Of course it helped to hear that he was a massive Miniclip fan too! We love games and the web and all they have to offer, but we also love getting outdoors, playing sport and keeping fit. At Miniclip we do have a few good sportsmen but to be honest, the closest most employees have probably come to anything like Raphael is attempting is by playing Extreme Triathlon! So, everything Raphael was doing impressed us enormously. That is why, as I write this, he is in Hawaii preparing for this amazing challenge.
Raphael has had to make sacrifices in his life in order to work towards his sporting goals. He currently works a full time job as a biomedical technician in a local hospital, analysing the blood of people suffering from diseases. While some of his triathlete competitors have been able to focus on training full-time, Raphael has had to carry on working in order to pay for his equipment, entry fees etc; and the further he gets in the sport the more expensive it becomes! Of course, he has to train outside of work, in order to keep at the peak of physical fitness, and he spends between 23 – 27 hours per week running, cycling or swimming.
The Ironman World Championship, now in its 35th year, is a huge success because of the dedication and courage exhibited by its participants. They follow the Ironman mantra of “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE”. Raphael will be competing with 2,000 athletes from 60 countries on the 140.6 mile journey that presents, as the Ironman site describes it, “the ultimate test of body, mind and spirit”.
So, on 12th October, think about what Raphael is doing. Think about what you can do to push yourself, to reach your goals whether they are sports related or not.
If you want to see how Raphael is doing, the event will be broadcast live on ESPN, and on www.ironman.com. And if you want to get the inside track on Raphael’s preparation and performance, don’t forget to check out his website.