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15 pairs of running shoes, and still ready for more

Stefan has been working here at Umicore for over 40 years. He has been the laboratory manager of the chemical laboratories of Agosi in Pforzheim for 16 years and he is one of the founding members of the running group. Before joining this group, he didn’t run at all. “I used to love sports, until I was 25. Then I had work, kids, life gets busy. You know how it is, it is difficult to find time and energy”. But once he joined the running group it only brought him joy and advantages. “You can hear it in my voice, running is really the best thing in the world”.

“There was a 10kms run in the neighborhood , and for 20 years Agosi sponsored the colleagues who wanted to join. I was sitting in the cafeteria when our former CEO for the site asked me: why don’t you join? I was not trained, so I said I had not ran for a long time  and that I was not ready to do it. That’s when he said: Okay, now we have a running group. We’ll help you and other colleagues train and we’ll do it together”

Since then and 15 years after, every Thursday the group runs 10 kms together. “The beauty of it is that we bond as colleagues. I love working for Umicore, everyone here is so nice but it is difficult to meet people outside your team in big sites, so it was so nice to get to know more colleagues. It was even better when other companies in the vicinity saw what we were doing and asked to join. Now we all run together too”. 

Running goes beyond physical health, it is also about social and mental wellbeing. Not every day is the same and sometimes work-life balance can get a bit heavy and that’s when you need to pump some energy back into the body and mind.

“After running it’s like I’ve pressed a reset button. My mind is free for new ideas. I get so much energy. We run in some beautiful surroundings around the plant and that connection with nature is priceless. I love to run along the river and among the trees”. 

Running also gives you a sense of achievement and he is very proud of what he has achieved together with the team. “We started in the first year with 4 kms and slowly built it up with the years. Then I achieved the half marathon. Nothing made me prouder with myself and that gave me the drive to train to complete a marathon. I achieved that too, together with the colleagues! At the moment it felt like closing a circle, it is the longest distance you can do. It is truly a great achievement. What made it better was having those 2 people next to me. We supported each other to the finish line.”

The running group is ready to continue and is always open to new members: “People think that it is very hard to run once or twice a week but the hardest part is the first step, actually starting. After joining everything flows. If you would have asked me before I would have never thought I would run a marathon. You’ll be proud to take the decision. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from or what running skills you have, you’ll do great. Each year you have to change for a new pair of shoes. After 15 pairs of running shoes I am happy and ready for more!”