When most Southwest Airlines Employees get together outside of the office, the word “fitness” doesn’t usually come to mind…until now.
Our fall semester Culture Activites Intern, Liz Dorris, decided to recruit Coworkers to form relay teams to run the 2008 Dallas White Rock Marathon. Sure, as part of a relay team the most anyone would have to run was 6.2 miles, but remember that part about fitness not usually being a part of our social activities? Four, five, or, heaven forbid, 6.2 miles sounded like torture when little Liz came up with the idea to run back in September.
Over the next couple months we had meetings and fought over who would get the four mile leg; we traveled SWA’s campus selling baked goods to help pay our registration fees (which were for a great cause-The Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital in Dallas); we swore off Sonic tater tots; and we even “trained.” I put trained in quotes because the way we felt after the race made it evident that none of us had put in anywhere near the adequate amount of training that we should have.
December 14: race day! Ten SWA Employees formed two relay teams- Team Peanuts and Team Pretzels—and we were ready to “Run the Rock!” With our bodies fueled from a big group pasta dinner the night before, we donned our Canyon Blue Southwest Airlines Share the Spirit T-shirts and crazy war paint and set out to wow the crowds at the starting line with our inflatable Shamu One flying through the air (okay, it was taped to a sand wedge, but still, no one else had one). Before we knew it, our first relay runners were off and running; and so it began…
Almost exactly five hours and precisely 26.2 miles later, all ten members of Teams Peanuts and Pretzels had finished their legs of the race-what a feeling! We had worked together to navigate the streets of Dallas in our getaway cars (special thanks to our “superfans!”) to get to the relay exchange points where we screamed and yelled with so much support for our SWA Teammates that I think other relay teams were a little jealous. As we waited for our final runners to cross the finish line, I know a couple of us were overcome with emotion from seeing folks that had finished the entire 26.2 miles, but also from thinking about how wonderful the day had been and what this amazing group of SWA Friends had accomplished together.
We all decided to wear our finisher t-shirts to work the next day-we were so proud. Of course there were several Employees who had run the entire marathon or half marathon—kudos to all of you, I don’t know one member of our relay teams who could have done that! But for a bunch of folks who usually spend our time together drinking beer and eating Mexican food to have covered 52.4 miles of pavement (when you add the teams together), we couldn’t think of a bigger thrill.
This wasn’t about the pace at which we ran or about winning the race, it wasn’t really about the race at all. It was all about that thing that we Southwest Employees feel but can’t really put our finger on; and it was about our amazing Intern, Liz, who really “got it” during her time with the Company and fully embraced what SWA Culture is all about and brought a bunch of SWA Family Members together to do something they never would have dreamed of doing before—and, of course, having FUN the entire time!