From participant to intern to marketeer
Since 2015 I (Joeri) am sportively involved in Strong Viking, but since Thursday 11th July 2019 I can officially say that I am an employee of the most fun and sportive organisation of the Netherlands. Monday the 8th of July was the date I successfully finished my study sports marketing. After participating at a Strong Viking event, an internship and a graduation thesis, I can finally call myself an employee of Strong Viking. In this blog I want to share my story with you.
It was a normal Thursday evening in 2015 when I first heard of Strong Viking. Together with my brother in law I was watching Discovery channel when a Strong Viking commercial appeared on tv. Without really thinking about it I said to him: ‘Wow Colin, I want to do that!’ He said to me: ‘I already signed up with some colleagues, why don’t you join us?’ After saying this, there was no way back. While still lying on the couch I opened my laptop and bought a ticket that evening. The distance? Well just start with the Beast 19KM, even though I just started running that year. At that moment I had already quit my study, so I had time enough to train.
Preparing for my first Strong Viking
At the end of 2014 I wanted to make a change in my life. At that time I loved eating one (okay, at least two) frikandellenbroodje (a very unhealthy and fat Dutch snack) for every lunch and I was a bit overweight. I wanted to be more fit in 2015 and run the Water Edition. I went for a run at least two times a week and next to that I went to the gym three times a week, just throwing around with some weights. At the start you could compare my condition with a runover hedgehog, exactly zero. Probably caused by being a cool guy and secretly smoking in de lunch breaks, add the extra kilo’s and you end with a condition of zero. A quality that did work out for me was being very stubborn and I lived by: the faster I run, the sooner I am back home. I wanted to run between ten and fifteen kilometres before the Water Edition. With this in mind I kept on running, adding some extra meters every week to reach ten kilometres in the end. The days flew by and before I knew it, it was Sunday 14th June, the day of my first Strong Viking.
My first Strong Viking
Sunday morning, the healthy nerves were definitely there, I went towards the Berendonck (location of the Water Edition Nijmegen). From the moment I got out of the car my healthy nerves evolved in some pretty serious nerves. Different questions popped in my head: Did I train enough? Is 19 kilometres not too much to start with? Can I handle this? We walked to the start-finish area. Here I saw, and heard, Cynthia for the first time. With her roaring voice she was giving a warm-up to the participants. The finish area reminded me of a festival, with a DJ spinning records and stands for food and drinks. This exceeded all my expectations, which were just surviving the run and going straight back home. Yes it’s true, I wasn’t prepared very well. It was time, our start wave was called and slowly we entered the area. The volume went up and Cynthia came on stage to hype us up for the first obstacle; the two and a half meter high Walhalla Walls. After screaming OORAH! We stormed the Walhalla Walls. It actually went surprisingly well, the nerves disappeared and it became pure fun. Running went very well, I really noticed the progress of my condition from the pas few months. Some obstacles were unforgettable; Storm the Castle, Fjord Drop, my first Mud Trenches and the finish on the Walhalla Steps. I noticed that the technical obstacles were still very difficult for me, but that did not really bother me actually. Totally exhausted I made it to the finish, at that point I knew it for sure: this was not going to be my last Strong Viking run.
A new challenge and education
After running a few Strong Viking Editions I knew it for sure, I am going to enrol in a study that gives me an opportunity to get a job in the ‘Obstacle Run World’ and of course preferably at Strong Viking. So Sports Marketing it was, four years of education including two internships at sports related companies. The first and second year consisted of sports colleges and related projects for Heracles Almelo, Go Ahead Eagles, Giro D’Italia and Essent. In the first half of the thirds year I could do an internship, I had only one goal; an internship at Strong Viking.
Internship at Strong Viking
So, how did I get there? You get the short version of the story. In 2015 I participated in the Strong Viking Roskilde Edition in Denmark. A person from our group knew CEO/Founder of Strong Viking, Jan Reijs. By accident he saw him at the event day and started to chat with him. He told Jan that I was looking for an internship at a sports company for the next year. I joined the conversation and he invited me to visit the (old) office in Cuijk. A few months later I had my first interview with Kelly van Mil, senior account manager and later my supervisor. At the end of the interview we were both enthusiastic about my upcoming internship. The internship went very well and at the end they said they would love to see me again at a later point in my study. A funny moment was when the marketing team posted a photo of me on Storm the Castle, without knowing it was me. My brother in law reacted on Instagram: ‘Joeri, this dude really looks like you’, my reply was ‘Huh, that is me!’
Strong Viking Editions during my internship
During my internship I participated in two Strong Viking Editions, the Hills Edition in Frankfurt and the Brother Edition in Amsterdam. Next to that I helped the building crew in Frankfurt. The weather forecast wasn’t very positive. It was a week of working in the rain, warming up during the brakes and taking a warm shower in the evening. But hey, a Viking conquerors all obstacles and the weather gods definitely can’t stop them! On Saturday I had time to run the 19km. it was the first time that I ran all by myself. The fun part was to see the experience of the participants during the run. Of course I wanted to introduce my friends to Strong Viking and there is no better Edition to run with your friends than the Brother Edition. My friends were invited on one condition, they had to run the 19km. After a little doubt they all agreed. It was an amazing day with lots of obstacles which required us to work together. Afterwards all my friends were infected with the Strong Viking virus, lots of Editions have already followed this one.
My graduation was planned a year and a half after my internship. During this time I stayed to help out at the merchandise stand. I really liked to keep in touch with everyone I got to know during my internship. Also it was nice to earn some money being a poor student. At the merchandise I support Kim, don’t know her yet? Check out her first SV blogs. I am already doing this for two years.
Graduating at Strong Viking
Last April it was finally time, I could start graduating. All students where busy thinking about where they want to do their graduation thesis. For me it was already clear: I am going to Strong Viking and trying to stay there after graduation. To keep it official I had another ‘interview’ with Kelly and Erwin (Marketing Manager). After a few good discussions I was ready to start my research on business participations. It was not commercially minded, I was searching for the added value for Dutch companies, like employee vitality, lowering sick leaves and better social affection at work. After four months I could finally defend my thesis at school. The normally very relaxed Joeri transformed into a very nervous version. Defending my thesis didn’t go exactly as planned, but in the end it was good enough and I officially graduated.
My first day and signing my contract at Strong Viking
After defending my thesis I had two days off, I returned to the office on Thursday to sign my contract as a marketing employee at Strong Viking. The contract was signed under the supervision of CEO/Founder Jan Reijs and Erwin. This was a perfect day, in the evening I had my graduation ceremony and the day after I went to my girlfriends’ graduation ceremony. The first weeks at Strong Viking flew by, I was introduced in the Cross Fit club on Wednesday. With these colleagues we do a workout (WOD), this improves the vibe at work and our (sportive)prestation. At the moment I am focussed on the flags for the Brother Edition Amsterdam. You can receive a free flag when you sign up with ten or more persons for this Edition. Next to that I support Erwin and I keep on learning new things every day. When real life (working life) starts, you realise there is still a lot to learn, things you can’t learn in school. I really enjoyed my first weeks and it keeps getting better as everyone is returning from their holidays.
Next to working at Strong Viking, I had another dream; travelling through Africa. This dream is also becoming reality. Together with some friends I am going to tour Africa with a 4x4 camper visiting countries like: south-Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia and final destination Botswana. We leave 4th
September and are returning back to the Netherlands at the end of 2019. In 2020 I will be back at Strong Viking, at the Mud edition 4th April 2020 I am working to make the event great for all of you again!