With a large number of running events cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic, RingCentral runners have been missing the sense of togetherness created by organised runs. We’re connected beyond the work we do, and running is one of the activities that bring us together. The company has a handful of geographical-specific runners’ Glip groups, featuring participants from California to Dublin to Singapore to Brisbane.
When the UK’s Harvey Needham and Chris Holt first discussed a potential activity to bridge the isolation, they wanted to connect runners across the world and introduce an element of fun into their practise. They decided to contact fellow runners on Glip with an interesting proposition.
Even though we can feel isolated, we’re not alone. Harvey and Chris created World Relay Day as a simple activity to build morale, make connections and encourage physical and mental health. The two began to hatch an idea of using RingCentral Glip to connect runners across the world and form a 24-hour relay.
“We wanted something immediate and simple,” says Harvey, “something anyone could get involved in, to encourage them to get some fresh air and exercise. Something fun and inspiring, with an element of wellness included.”
Harvey and Chris created a dedicated RingCentral Glip group for the initiative to share information about the event organisation. Chris created a spreadsheet of 30-minute segments to cover a 24-hour period, allowing interested runners to assign themselves to a specific segment.
The event was well communicated to our entire global workforce by me (Employee Experience Business Partner Jason Lane) and our Wellness Program Coordinator Ellen Shmunis. Ellen runs a lot of initiatives and activities, from a mental health and wellbeing perspective, that are available to all RingCentral employees.
“We didn’t expect a very large response,” says Chris. “In order to cover all time slots throughout the day, we’d need 48 runners, so we thought we’d end up running for a few hours to cover the empty slots.”
The group attracted over 100 members, 87 of which registered as running participants. Chris needed to add extra fields to the spreadsheet to accommodate all the interest.
“People really enjoyed being in the group and encouraging one another before, during and after the run,” says Harvey. “To be honest, it was meant to be just a bit of running, but turned into quite an event. We’re really happy with the response we got.
“We just wanted to do something in a simple way, something we could organise quickly. That’s why we didn’t initially include the element of charity – people would need to time source sponsorship if that were the case. We wanted to do something more immediate, for the sake of connecting people.”
In the end, 87 people across eight countries signed up to participate. On Thursday 14 May, at 07:00 BST, the run kicked off in the UK and France.
Participation remained in Europe for a couple of hours, before splitting eastwards and westwards as Singapore and the Philippines joined the evening run and Florida woke up and started its morning exercise.
Later (or earlier, depending on where you are) in the day, Australia began a new morning shift, pushing the relay into its closing hours. The final leg was completed in the UK by event organisers Harvey and Chris, bringing the exercise full circle.
The runners shared some fantastic views, as you can see above, as well as some entertaining selfies (below). Instead of having a formal ‘baton pass’ over Glip, which would interfere with the flow of the relay, runners took photos as they finished their stint sharing photos and messages of encouragement throughout the day.
“We were surprised and bowled over by the interest – and the amazing camaraderie,” days Chris. “Seeing everyone cheering each other on as the day rolled on was really cool to watch, it really did feel like a team effort.”
Each runner logged their 30-minute distance in the spreadsheet to record the total distance covered. As Chris explains, “It was just a bit of fun at first, to see how far we could all get. Later, once we had the total, one of our colleagues arranged for RingCentral to donate money to charity via RCause. We ended up raising $300 for a charitable cause.”
“That’s yet to be decided,” says Harvey. “A runner will be selected at random, and they will then choose the cause we donate the money to.”
So the run achieved its objective?
“More than,” says Harvey. “The opportunity to connect so many people across many different countries is really fulfilling.”
“It could have been too good, in fact,” he adds. “Now people are asking when the next event is.”
Originally published May 19, 2020, updated Jan 16, 2023