Aura Farrando January 23, 2019

It’s Monday noon, lunchtime for most of the employees working at Materialise headquarters, but Lies, event manager, is going for a run. And she is not alone! While the smell of international cuisine and sound of conversations fill up the cafeterias, a group of Materialise colleagues heads to the locker rooms to prepare for lunch run.

Run more, work better

There have always been Materialise employees who enjoyed a run, but converting lifelong non-runners into habitual lunchtime runners has happened quite suddenly. The running boom started one year ago, when the company launched the program Start2Run, together with the local sports center Sportpraktijk, as part of its ‘Health & Wellbeing @Work’ program.

“We started this program to motivate employees to take care of their health and wellbeing, in order to positively impact their resilience,” explains Els Nouwen, HR officer, who leads the company’s health program.

Running fever at Materialise

Lies Peeters running with her colleagues

“Exercise during lunchtime makes employees feel refreshed and relaxed, enabling to recharge for work afterwards. It also contributes significantly to a better work-life balance,” continues Els.

Lies Peeters joined Start2Run last year, encouraged by the psychological benefits of running: “I wanted to do something more in between the busy work schedule of the day. After listening and reading about how physical activity helps to release stress and has a good influence on your body, I decided to give the program a try.”

After lots of motivational talks and building up a good amount of courage — the first time Lies had to run, it was 30 degrees Celsius outside — she joined the running program and hasn’t stopped running since! More than one year later, Lies still goes for a run three times a week because of the energy and renewed motivation she gains from it.

Lies explains how she has pushed her boundaries with running:

“I really thought I wouldn’t be able to do it and I feel proud to see where I am now. I normally run 5K but I can even run 10K now! It’s a matter of discipline and will-power!”

Lies Peeters during a lunch run

Lies Peeters during a lunch run

Colleagues make for good running mates

Running fever at Materialise reaches its peak at the annual Ekiden Run in Brussels. Participating in this relay race has proven to be a great experience, not just for the employees as individuals but also to foster team spirit. Teams of 6 runners each compete in the Ekiden, and each team must collectively cover the distance of a marathon. In the weeks running up to the race, the buzz starts at Materialise with employees finding their teammates and starting to train.

Lies also participated in the Ekiden Run with her running “gang”. “Last year I had just started running and I didn’t feel ready, but this year I accepted the challenge. It was hard but the motivation I got from my fellow colleagues was amazing!” says Lies with a smile on her face.

Materialise team at Ekiden

The Materialise team at the Ekiden Run

The atmosphere in the stadium was also a great source of motivation for Lies, as well as the beautiful location, just next to the Atomium in Brussels, which made the race even more memorable: “Everybody warned me that there was a tough hill right towards the end and I was a bit worried, but I actually felt so good I could have climbed even more! Approaching the finish line, the sense of fulfilment was unforgettable!”

The Ekiden is not the only competition Materialise running enthusiasts can look forward to during the year. The next running challenge comes at the end of the year race in Leuven: the Corrida, where Materialise has now participated for two years. Soon it will be time to “Run for Benin”, Materialise’s annual fundraiser run in aid of the educational initiative that Materialise sponsors in Benin.

The healthier world starts here

“We were happy to see the impact of our Health & Wellbeing initiatives, and how it quickly became a teambuilding tool as well!” says Els. In the 2018 Ekiden, 13 teams of 6 people ran for Materialise: around 10% of the employees at Materialise headquarters. In 2019 we aim for 100 colleagues joining!

Materialise Ekiden

The Materialise team at the Ekiden Run

“Our mission as a company is to create a better and healthier world, and it starts with our employees, the cornerstones of our success.”

Read more about life at Materialise on our career pages and other sport activities at work on our blog.

Would you like to be Materialise’s next star runner? Check our vacancies!

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