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Life at SAP: Thorsten Vieth – taking it one step at a time

Article originally authored by Toni Ravelo, Head of Employee Communications, SAP APJ.

Thorsten Vieth is a part of SAP’s Public Services Ecosystem – Global Partner Operations in Singapore.


Thorsten’s simple philosophy: Running 100 kilometres, one step at a time

How many of you have ran a full marathon? Now imagine running more than twice that distance. That’s what our very own Thorsten Vieth, Partner Manager, Public Services & Healthcare Ecosystem did when he ran the Tarawera 100km Ultra-Marathon in New Zealand, one of the toughest foot races in the world.

Why anyone would do that, you might wonder, and how did he manage it. We checked in with Thorsten to get his story.

One simple reason – keeping fit

Thorsten first started running 17 years ago for a simple reason – to stay fit. At the time, he never thought he would take part in a marathon, let alone an ultra-marathon. However, once he started running, he never looked back. Taking it one step at a time, he started running further, and further – completing his first full marathon in 1997, then doing a few more marathons over the years, before finally moving on to the ultra-distance with a 60km race in 2014.

/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/thorsten3_708063.jpegLast month, Thorsten joined over 1,000 international participants to take on the Tarawera Ultra-Marathon that brought him past lakes, forests, waterfalls and stunning scenery, from Rotorua to Kawerau in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.

A simple mantra – Just do it

Preparation for the event required a rare single-mindedness and focus – For five months, Thorsten ran six days a week, tracked his heart rate and pace, sent his info to his trainer in New Zealand, introduced strength training to his regime, and even stuck to a paleodiet.

I asked Thorsten what kept him motivated on days when he just didn’t feel up to it – what kept him going? Thorsten simply replied, “In my calendar I blocked off time for running and would stick to it no matter, I would just go, run, get it out of the way and then go home. If it’s in my calendar, I will complete it.”

Overcoming adversity

Running a 100km is hard enough but hurting yourself along the way makes it harder by tenfold. That is exactly what happened to Thorsten when he fell on a downhill section about 35km into the race.  He bruised his knee, scrapped his hand and his chest hurt when he breathed.

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius

After picking himself up and a quick visit to the first aid area, Thorsten, got back to running, telling his fellow runners who offered to help, No you guys keep running, I’ll be fine.”

But he wasn’t. At the 75km mark, he was ready to give up. Every step and every breath hurt. If not for his wife who was there to cheer him on, he might just have quit. He recalls her exact words, “You’ve completed this much already. You have to finish this race.”


100km – one step at a time

It was not just the 75km he had already completed but the months of training and sacrifice before the race that would have gone to waste had he stopped. With that in mind, Thorsten put his head down and got through the next 25km – one km at a time, one step at the time – until he finally crossed the finish line where a nice cold beer awaited.

And there you have it, it’s that simple, sometimes we just have to quiet our minds, our doubts, our excuses and just focus on the individual tasks that help us complete our goals.

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