Partner events commonly are pretty similar. You meet up face to face with the people you do your business with, often this takes place in an in a rather casual environment, sometimes you undertake a social or outdoor activity first to loosen up a bit and to get hungry, then you usually have dinner together, share good conversations also about not non business related topics and of course, you might also enjoy a couple of cold beers along the way. Looked at in this way, this year’s Sitecore partner event was a pretty common. Except that it wasn’t.
From the 2nd until the 5th of July we joined Sitecore’s partner event, that is annually hold in Alpe d’Huez, a mountain village in the alpes near Grenoble (–> casual environment, check). Over 50 people from Sitecore and their partner companies gathered to ride the „La Marmotte“, a sportive cycling event (–> outdoor activity, check), together. So on Thursday night we joined for a first welcome dinner with all the other invites (–> dinner, check; good conversations, check; couple of beers with people from Denmark, England, Holland, Belgium, Germany or the Czech Republic – needless to say).
Friday, after breakfast we did a short „warm-up“, which was a bit like carrying coals to Newcastle given the 35 degrees outside (–>another casual outdoor activity, check). However, it was fascinating to see over 50 rather pale-skinned IT people from northern or central Europe, all wearing the Sitecore kit that followed the CI/CD of their latest release, Sitecore 8 (–> loosening up, check, some more good conversations, check). At another dinner (–> check), Sitecore’s CDA, Steffen Andersen, gave us a quick race briefing. The management summary: A long day in the saddle ahead, at high temperatures on bad French roads, have to drink a lot and stay safe. Hence, we finished the evening by hydrating (–> cold beer, check).
Saturday morning, early morning to be precise, we all went down Alpe d’Huez to Bourg d’Oisans together, to meet in Starting block No 2. And at 7:00 o’clock it finally was time to start the 174 km with 5200 meters of climbing „La Marmotte“ experience.
From here we can only speak for ourselves, Enno and Thomas from Namics. Of course, we started too fast, flying up the Col de Glandon and the Lacets de Montevernier in the morning freshness, that was to say nice 25-30 degrees. From km 80 to 120, while climbing the Col du Mollard and the Col de la Croix, things started to get a little nasty, i.e. too hot (–> outdoor activity, check; but casual, fail).
The fast 40 km descent back to Bourg d’Oisans brought a little bit of „refreshment“, that felt like putting a hair dryer 30 cm in front of your face. But at the start of the final climb back up to the Alpe d’Huez relief waited. Liselotte and Søs from Sitecore provided some refreshments (–> cold beer, fail) and cheering words (–> good conversation, check). We think that climbing Alpe d’Huez at 42-45 degrees, after already having spent 6 up to 10 hours in the saddle, was one of the most extreme experiences that most of us ever made. We saw many participants walking up the Alpe, using every waterfall to cool down their bodies. In the end, 3000 people (of 7500 that started) abandoned the race. However, on this special day this often counts as rather good decision, given the fact that we’re all professionals in something, e.g. e-commerce, digital marketing or user experience design, but merely not in survival camps or desert marathons. Hence, it was good to see all the Sitecore employees and partners tired and well-done, but also alive and smiling back up at the restaurant in Alpe d’Huez at night (–> good conversation about heroic adventures, check; some cold beers, well deserved).
Sitecore definitely kept up to their promise to „own the experience“. This was the most uncommon partner event we’ve ever been to. The only thing we can repeat is to say thank you again, for the organisation, the Sitecore cycling kit, the good conversations we shared, the dinners, the cold beers, the cheering-up at the bottom of Alpe d’Huez, …, the „experience“ – you own it.
From us at Namics, thank you and see you next year (definitely maybe).
Enno & Thomas