Running that extra mile

Running that extra mile
New Delhi, Feb 2 : The Bloomberg Square Mile Relay is an immersive team-building and participation series engaging over 10,000 runners from over 600 of the worlds largest financial organizations each year.

The 2020 Global Race Series is set to smash participation records with over 15,000 attendees expected from 600 companies across 12 cities, including Mumbai. The series will also contribute approximately USD300,000 in charitable donations with at least 25 per cent of each team's entry fee going to local community partners through The Extra Mile program.

IANSlife caught up with James Hassett, Managing Director of relay, who shares more about the event and the role of sports in bringing people together. Excerpts

The Square Mile Relay follows a format of a team of 10 running the extra mile for a cause they believe in. Globally, which has been the most popular cause so far?

James Each city has its own unique cause specific to that community, which makes it extra special when our participants run for something which is close to their heart and directly impacts the communities close to them. Therefore, I wouldn't say there is a specific cause which is most popular as they're so pertinent to that particular city.

With at least 25 per cent of all team entry fees go to The Extra Mile program, supporting local projects, in Mumbai this is delivered by Magic Bus, who deliver fantastic work across the city with their poverty alleviation programs. In Mumbai last year, "Livelihood" was the cause that won and we worked with Magic Bus to deliver this program throughout the year which I've outlined in the section after the next one.

Are you competitive about sports?

James Growing up I was one of three boys, in the middle of an older and younger brother, so competition was inevitable and we all had a love of sport, which developed my passion for the work I do now. I am very competitive, with myself more than with others, to constantly try to improve, beat my previous best and better myself. Having played a lot of team sports growing up including rugby, football and cricket I hugely enjoy the camaraderie and bonds created through competing as a team and that's what we've really tried to replicate with this event and I believe is a special element of the Bloomberg Square Mile Relay. Every runner gets to compete by themselves, to get their best time, but it all counts together as part of their overall team time.

Why did you think of taking this race beyond London and is it only specific to cities that are financial capitals?

James It took us a while to fine tune the concept that we had launched in 2007 and having seen how people took to it in London we felt that it would be something that would resonate globally. That people were getting out of the office to take up a challenge which is a manageable distance and working in teams with people they wouldn't necessarily work with directly really struck a chord and it wasn't long before we started planning the next steps!

The nature of the businesses who take part worldwide lends itself to us taking the Relay to cities with strong financial hubs, such as Mumbai. The competition is fierce but friendly as companies take on not only their business rivals locally, but also challenge their own offices in cities around the world, which makes it a truly unique and global concept!

Globally, in all these years, what are the funds that BSMR has managed to raise and this year, what are some of the winning causes across the 12 cities?

James Since the inception, through our charitable arm The Extra Mile we have raised over USD990k and this year will see us break through the USD1,000,000 mark at our first race in 2020 (Dubai) which has been brilliant.

It's something we're really proud of and seeing the impact in each individual city makes me incredibly proud of the series. In 2019 we had a wide-ranging number of winning causes across the 12 cities including mental health, social justice, access and inclusion, empowering women and girls and literacy to name a few.

If you had to pick your dream team of 10 famous personalities, who would they be and what would the three causes your team would be running for?

James I would have to pick the top 10 fastest mile runners of all-time… (did I mention I was a bit competitive? ) Hicham EL GUERROUJ, Noah NGENY, Noureddine MORCELI, Steve CRAM, Daniel KOMEN, Venuste NIYONGABO, Said AOUITA, Alan WEBB, Bernard LAGAT, Ayanleh SOULEIMAN

Tells us something about the experience of BSMR in Mumbai last year and what sort of teams participated?

James It's always a slight step into the unknown with a new race city - we've got a concept that works, the due diligence has been conducted, we've spoken to all the right people and have done our background research into the city and country…but until we've launched, we don't know if it will take off. It's safe to say that our first year in Mumbai was a huge success, as we launched with 6 weeks to go to race day and saw over 60 teams (610 runners) take to the start line which is brilliant for a first year. The competition was fierce but friendly and the atmosphere in the race village was electric - when the dj came on there were some pretty amazing dance moves on display! We really can't wait to be back for an even bigger and better event this year!

In terms of teams who entered, it was great to see some of the biggest businesses in the city take to the start line with Tata Consultancy taking the title. Other businesses such as Macquarie, Reserve Bank of India, Standard Chartered, Nomura, Mastercard (who take part in every race in the series), Google, LinkedIn and of course, Bloomberg among others were all keen to battle it out. There are already some fantastic new companies joining the race for 2020 and we look forward to welcoming even more!

What role does sports play in bringing the world?

James I first really saw and felt the true power that sport can have on 24 June 1995, when one of the most iconic moments in sporting history took place at Ellis Park in Johannesburg. South Africa won the Rugby World Cup for the very first time on home soil and Nelson Mandela, the President of South Africa, wearing a Springboks rugby shirt and cap, presented the Webb Ellis Cup to the South African captain Francois Pienaar. It was a pivotal and poignant moment in history and moved me deeply. I truly believe sport has the power to change the world and have seen so much positive impact through sport around the world that confirms this.

(Puja Gupta can be contacted at [email protected])

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Running that extra mile