On Top of the World
by Paul Jordan · Regional Manager, GET · United Kingdom
In April, I set off alongside 13 well-known rugby players and polar explorers to ski and pull sleds to the North Magnetic Pole. The "Arctic Rugby Challenge" is an expedition intended to set a new Guinness World Record for the most northerly game of rugby ever played.
To the uninitiated, rugby could be described as "a hooligan's game played by gentlemen." For me, rugby teaches much about life in terms of respect, dedication, teamwork, competition and dealing with challenges. These are traits that I try to bring to my job at Cisco every day.
My challenge started five years ago when I suffered a brain haemorrhage, which led to a stroke, paralyzing half of my body for over a week. I was very lucky that it was caught in time. My wife's cool and quick thinking got me to hospital quickly, which saved my life.
Growing up in the Scottish Highlands I was adventurous from an early age. However, since my recovery–which took several months–I have tried to dedicate myself to making the most of the life I was given back. I know what it's like to need a helping hand. Whilst indulging my thirst for adventure I have tried to add an element of giving back to society.
I am proud to be doing this as a Cisco employee. My team and leadership have been fantastic in their support for me, and we are discussing how we can bring Cisco technology into this expedition. I see the Internet of Things as a link to what we are able to achieve.
My team's theme this year is "be bold." In April, the challenge team travel from London via Canada to Resolute Bay in the Arctic to prepare. We then fly to the Polar Ice Cap where we spend the next seven days trekking over 100 miles to the Pole, where we build the rugby pitch and runway.
There are plenty of risks on the way. As well as combating temperatures of -30c, we have to be armed for defence from polar bears.
Satellite images of the Arctic show how the ice cap has reduced over the last 20 years, so getting to the Pole now is a lot more hazardous than it has been previously.
The Guinness Book of Records rules are strict. The game needs a full size pitch, posts and flags as well as a ratified referee. Besides a film crew and paying spectators, the Rugby World Cup trophy will be flown in. Following the game, we have the "luxury" of being flown home having hopefully set the World Record.
The team is a mixture of businessmen and high profile rugby players, and it's a privilege to travel and play alongside them. By the end of our journey we will have become lifelong friends.
In the past few months we have been on radio, in newspapers, and we met the Queen's daughter, Princess Anne. A big rugby fan herself, she is very supportive of the trip. Support from celebrities and players across the globe has been immense with over 3 million retweets of the expedition so far.
Corporate sponsors have covered the cost of the trip, so money donated now goes directly to the charity. I have visited children's hospitals in the U.K. and when they found out I was from Cisco, they said how much the children loved our Connected Santa program. This made me proud to be part of Cisco.
You can donate to the expedition on the Arctic Rugby Challenge website.
Did you know? You can share this story using the social media icons on the upper left. Use the hashtag #WeAreCisco. You can also rate or comment on the story below.