Go Team, Go!

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When was the last time you did something that stretched you to your limits and pushed you out of your comfort zone?

Last year some friends and I took part in a charity event to raise funds for Maggie’s Cancer Centres. This was no ordinary event, this was Maggie’s Monster Bike and Hike, a 24 hour challenge to travel as far as you can between Fort William and Inverness which is about 71 miles.

This was easily the most positive and rewarding experience of my life. Collectively we raised over £4,000 through organising a ceilidh, treasure hunt and sponsorship all of which was as much fun as the Monster event itself. Half the team completed the Bronze challenge with the other three pushing through to Silver!

Fast forward a few months and we have a team entered ready for the bigger Monster Silver challenge 2012.

Why Peter Why? That is bonkers!

A few months ago my friend John found out that he had no less than five new tumors.

This news gave us all a fright, apart from John who was non-plussed as always. I couldn’t help John directly and I found that incredibly frustrating. No matter, I had to do something positive to help people in his situation and Monster just didn’t seem enough Questions started flying round my head.

What could I do to would help? How could I go further and help other teams?

I needed inspiration. What could we do better as a team than last year?

There are two aspects to Monster, fundraising and training. Fundraising went amazingly well and exceeded all our expectations in 2011. Training was different.

Some team members, I think it would be safe to say, sleep with their bikes as they can’t bare to be separated from them. In contrast it was as if other team members hadn’t been on a bike before.

How could I ensure we are all physically able to take on the challenge as we don’t want anyone getting into difficulties in the middle of nowhere. The question is how to encourage training and also have visibility when people are falling behind with the schedule? If this were a situation within the workplace the team would be looking for greater visibility of progress, unfortunately it isn’t practically to have a single whiteboard as the team are geographically spread over 40 miles.

At this point I had the idea for GoTeamGo, a web application that incorporates the two themes of Monster:

  • motivate teams during their training preparation.
  • and help promote Maggie’s Cancer Centers.


Anyone taking up an exercise programme will know how easy it is to fall out of the habit of training. To overcome this participants can sign up to GoTeamGo and are sent a reminder each day they should be training. If people get a bit slack and ‘forget’ to log their training they get another reminder the following day.

When logging your progress there are two things you can see at a glance,

  1. Your progress in comparison with the training schedule
  2. How your team mates are progressing. Initially my thoughts were to provide visibility so that if you saw someone struggling you would encourage them to literally get on their bike. However another benefit arose, competitive team members were continually trying to out do each other by training that bit more.

Promoting Maggie’s

Promoting charity was a huge aspect I wanted to incorporate into GoTeamGo, but how?

In 2011 I spammed twitter a lot asking people to kindly support our efforts with a link to our team JustGiving page, which was very successful.

GoTeamGo encourages individuals to share their achievements when logging their training. Currently you can share progress on Twitter and Facebook where messages incorporate the charity, your Just Giving page and how much training you have accomplished.

This had a number of unexpected side effects.

  1. Participants' followers felt actively engaged in their friends training and could watch them progress and improve over the 12 week training period. This lead to more sponsorship and hopefully more people participating in the future.
  2. Supporting the motivational loop between team mates. Every time one person has logged their training the rest of the team sees this on Twitter / Facebook, this in turn encourages them to keep up.

Any team participating in the Bike and Hike can sign up, the more people using GoTeamGo the more followers see those training messages, ideally this will translate into increased donations to Maggie’s Cancer Centres.


In terms of building GoTeamGo my work environment at {{ site.title }} is incredibly supportive. The company actively encourages staff to have Slack projects. GoTeamGo quickly became mine.

Why does the company support Slack? This provides staff the opportunity to learn, grow and in many cases promote the company through means which they may not have considered. Also if staff care passionately about something they are working on they will be pushing it in their spare time and also being careful not to waste company resources.

The ethos being that the people make the company.

Monster 2012

On Friday 4th May 2012 we travelled north to Fort William to get ready for our Saturday 7:45am start to the 53 mile Monster Silver challenge. We were a bit late on starting due to bike tinkering. I was holding everyone up. This meant our team were the last participants over the start line.

I could write at length about the

  • exhilarating up and up and up, and down hill sections
  • teammates going over their handlebars 2 meters before the end of the bike section
  • the stunning scenery kindly provided by the Great Glen
  • snow
  • cramp
  • cake, mmmmm cake
  • and blood blisters

The short story is that we had an amazing experience at Monster 2012.

Personally I took an hour longer to finish in 2012, however I did travel 15 miles further on foot and the whole team completed Silver! Wooooo!

What next?

Training for Monster took up a great deal of time and writing GoTeamGo was time consuming at points. Both were worth it for the experience alone. By participating I got physically fitter and raised a great deal of money for charity. By creating GoTeamGo I learned about hooking an app to social media sites. It was great to see feedback arriving, saying that other teams found this to be a great tool during training.

Now I want to try something different, maybe another challenge maybe something technical but definitely something different.

At the minute I’m pulling together our team entry form for Monster 2013. There is some unfinished business there as we are going for Gold!

GoTeamGo needs to be extended so that any team based charity event can be added along with their training programme and allow participants to sign up.

What’s next for you?

Is there some kind of challenge that you have always thought about undertaking but felt it was too far out of your comfort zone?

It could be something physical or using your tech skills to learn something new?

Whatever it is get signed up, tell people about it and announce it to the world.

If you are helping other people through charity or if you are writing code that you can share on Github, people will support you and it will give you a very nice warm fuzzy feeling.

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