Source2Sea 2008

Source2sea is a team development journey, taking you, quite literally, from the source of a river to the sea, in a beautiful part of the UK.

The 3 day journey allows teams from Businesses to work together on a series of challenges that will test them – cerebrally and physically – whilst being supported by professional team-working coaches.   Teams take on the challenges of each stage in real-time, and become adept in the skills of managing uncertainty, problem solving and creative lateral thinking.

Source2sea 2008 took place in the stunningly beautiful coastal hills of Mid-Wales on the Afon Rheidol River, which rises in the Cambrian Mountains and reaches the sea at Aberystwyth between the 25th and 27th September. 

17 teams took part, from organisations across Europe, including British Telecom, NHS Health Scotland, Knowledge Solutions and Coca Cola.  Each team was made up of 6 people, with the teams being able to decide who would take part in each of the 9 stages.  Some stages utilised the whole team, whereas others only involved 4 with the remaining 2 team members acting as Support Crew.

Day one and Stage 1 had the teams of 6, building model gliders that were flown off the dam holding back the reservoir that was filled by the Afon Rheidol itself. This short stage provided a gentle introduction to the event and was a great opportunity for the coaches to observe all the teams in action.  Many styles of glider were designed and built, with bonuses on offer for wing length.  The winning glider flew a distance of 39.9 meters netting the stage winners Coke from Grigny in Europe their first 100 points.

Stage 2 was a 4.5 hour stage involving the teams playing a game of Pontoon by visiting controls that had different card values at each – their objective was to get as many high scoring hands as possible. However the teams could split into 2 with some going into the hills on foot and some collecting cards by kayaking around the reservoir. Most teams pre-agreed the hands they would play and collected accordingly before returning to the stage transition to play their hand. Some teams played up to 5 hands of cards during the stage but several went bust scoring nothing on that particular hand. Communication and recognising strengths and weaknesses were critical. A compulsory control, which was high in the Cambrian Mountains, gave a crucial card of ace high or ace low but also allowed the teams to pick up their team baton, a leek complete with its own SI card!  The winning team for this stage was another Coke team, this time from Northampton, gaining 500 stage points.

After a night at the Event Centre under canvas, day 2 and Stage 3 took them further down the river on Mountain Bikes. The route hugged the Rheidol and went through stunning terrain through forests and past small lakes often crossing or joining the now famous Continental Mountain Bike trail and finishing at the mountain bike centre at Nant-yr-Arian. On face value the stage looked easy but with the controls being worth different values at different times of the 3 hour stage the teams strategy and time keeping was crucial.

Stage 4 involved the team running around the Silver Lead Mining Museum at Llywernog finding controls and answering questions about the history of mining in the area. One control was even hidden underground in a disused adit, forcing the teams to don helmets and head torches.  This highly interactive museum created challenge and education all in one stage!  The stage was one by GrowHow, their first stage win and the full 100 points maximum.

Stage 5 was on foot and headed back through very different terrain again with gently rolling hills high above the deep gorge of the Rheidol. With clear skies and gently turning wind turbines on the hilltops it was very much like Telly Tubby land. The stage was all about creating as many words as possible gained from collecting letters at controls, with bonuses on offer for the longer words.  No team managed to get the 9 letter word ‘Democracy’ that was worth 18 points.  GrowHow were on a roll and stormed into the lead on this stage, but the exertion of effort was starting to take it’s toll on the teams, with 3 teams failing to make it back to the event centre in time and scoring zero for the stage.

The final stage of the day was Stage 6 - a night stage that was like a trail or hash run - only the teams were following Glow Sticks.  There were 3 trails, with each trail a different colour and going up into a different part of the hills around the Event Centre. At the end of each trail, the teams had to collect the components of a bubble-making machine that they then had to build and demonstrate working in as fast a time as possible.  A procurement team won the stage in just under 45 minutes.

After a deserved rest, day 3 and stage 7 was a dynamic sprint relay race to Devils Bridge with the leek (that had been collected from the source of the Afon Rheidol and carried on every stage) being used as a team baton.  The fastest team, who all came from East Kilbride, covered the 4km in 17 minutes – a very fast time that netted them 100 points.

Stage 8 set in the grounds of the Hafod Hotel at Devils Bridge had teams building water wheels to raise their leek as far as possible off the ground, however the water used to power the water wheel and many bits of the equipment used had to be retrieved from the Devils Bridge Gorge some several hundred feet below the build area. This stage really was a mix of physical, creative and cerebral effort by the teams who were by now tiring after 3 days of continued effort. However with this stage and one other left all was to play for all the way to the sea!  GrowHow, whose water wheel lifted their leek to a staggering height of 2.87m, again won this stage.

The final stage followed the Afon Rheidol as it opened up from the confined gorge of the Welsh hills and out onto the open plains before it arrived at Aberystwyth. The teams took a train to Aberystwyth with questions to answer on the train by looking out of the windows, in order to earn time bonuses. Just to make it a little more challenging the questions were in Welsh, however they did have a Welsh dictionary.

A short sprint across town and a challenge to stack pebbles to a height of 1 meter on the beach then the teams were allowed to take the final run in past the castle and into the water for the final control and stop the clock! 

After the results from all 9 stages had been calculated, it was newcomers GrowHow who took the final honour and overall title with 1852 points and Agile Media 1 from British Telecom came second with 1569 points.  Last year’s winners Knowledge Solutions came sixth with 1345 points.

All participants hailed the event as a superb team experience, full of development learning and fun. The team challenges that made up Source2sea 2008 were intriguing and exciting, with the event design team actually surpassing their superb formatting of 2007 and 2006.

Veterans of Source2sea marvelled at the complexity and scenery of the "Pontoon" running and kayaking stage and grappled with the intricate challenges of the "Leek Lifting" water wheel construction stage.

Each team benefited from the personal guidance of an accredited Team Performance Coach - enabling them to step up their performance throughout the event, and then to transfer the learning back to their workplace. 

Event Director, Stephen Bentley commented, "It was fantastic to see teams developing their performance in such a stunning environment, with the learning they gain being directly applicable back in the workplace. Source2sea has firmly positioned itself as the premier outdoor team development event in Europe. We are already looking forward to 2009 and the New Forest".

The event also raised money for Source2sea’s 2 nominated charities: Kidscape; a charity who specialise in the prevention of abuse and bullying and the Marine Conservation Society (who also entered a team into this years event and came 11th with 1223 points).

For more information about this years event, or to get more information about Source2sea, please check out the website: