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Dec. 3, 2012
First-Ever Team CLIF Bar Athlete Summit is a Smashing Success!
The Team CLIF Bar athlete sponsorship program has been in existence nearly as long as the company itself and remains an essential component in supporting the development of our core sports, testing our products, and spreading the word about all things Clif! As important as this program is to us, it’s also a very large (over 1500 total athletes) and amazingly diverse group of people with demanding schedules, and we had never had more than a couple athletes in our office at the same time.


So, in an effort to build a better athlete community (and honestly, just to see what would happen!), we invited 42 TCB athletes to our home base here in the Bay Area for two whirlwind days of fun and engaging activities. As this was a test run of sorts, we did our best to include athletes from each of our eight core disciplines ranging from grassroots amateur competitors to some of the best professionals in the world. This is how the inaugural Team CLIF Bar Athlete Summit all went down.

After a casual San Francisco dinner at Pizza Orgasmica on Wednesday night, the athletes who chose not to go bar-hopping ‘til the wee hours made their way to their comfortable digs at Hotel Del Sol in the City’s Marina District. If an urban 1950’s boutique motor lodge made up in the finest of Palm Springs flair sounds cool, then Hotel Del Sol is your place! Just don’t jump in the pool from the 2nd story room balcony – they don’t appreciate it.


Our vehicle of choice for the Summit was the Teacher Bus, a vintage school bus running on bio-diesel and its own solar power that camecomplete with dance floor and a boomin’ sound system. The bus set the tone for the event and as the athletes piled off and into our office on Thursday morning, they knew this wasn’t going to be your standard athlete gathering. After a quick breakfast the athletes sat in on our weekly all-company meeting in the Clif Bar theater. Co-owners Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford were fresh off their month-long Kit’s Organic Tour and gave us a quick recap, showing the athletes that even when you’re the owners a successful company, you’re never beyond hitting the road to promote new products in a grassroots fashion. The meeting ended in classic fashion as rock climber/madman Timmy O’Neill performed what can only be described as a shirtless spaz-dance to a live rendition of Zeppelin’s Communication Breakdown. Just another Thursday meeting.

Since we had never had this many athletes in-house before, Gary and Kit stuck around to talk with them and answer any questions. Clif Bar President and COO Kevin Cleary then took the stage to give the athletes some insight into our business model and company aspirations, giving the athletes a bigger picture view on how important their roles as company and brand ambassadors really are. Every step of the way, the members of our athlete roster were engaged and eager to find out more – that’s why we like them!

trying new bars

Thursday afternoon was jam-packed. As some athletes were pulled to allow us to take some quick photos and answer some PR questions, others were involved in a pretty awesome Clif Bar Live webcast featuring real-time questions pulled from our Facebook fans and Twitter followers. Clif Bar’s own Dylan Seguin hosted the web event, as TCB athletes Scott Jurek, Kimmy Fasani, Todd Wells, and Peter Stetina fielded questions ranging from individual training styles to how many nights in a row each of them had gone without bathing. While the webcast was in progress, the other 38 athletes were busy creating their own custom Clif Bars under professional guidance from our folks in the R&D kitchen. When the smoke finally cleared from a hard-fought battle among several of the teams, the judges (a panel of industry magazine editors, writers, and bloggers) handed the Sean Connery Award for Best Overall Bar to cyclist Troy Wells and triathlete Amy Adcock. Norm Peterson and Dick Butkus awards were also given out, but those are for another blog.

The final event of the day was a forum that put our sponsored athletes together in one large room with our Brand team, allowing both groups to interact and feed off each other on topics as diverse as specific product ingredients and sourcing to biodegradable packaging to putting together an effective lead-out train at the end of a bike race. Any topic was fair game, and the conversation was impassioned and lively – everyone walked away learning something new – pretty cool!

Go Car group rain

After a casual mixer featuring some tasty beverages and live music, the athletes once again boarded the bus for a trip back to San Francisco and a sweet bayside dinner at pier three’s The Plant Café restaurant.

Early Friday morning, the athletes headed out to take part in some chosen activities. A little San Francisco rain apparently doesn’t deter a bunch of serious athletes from getting their exercise on. So, some bayside running, an Ocean Beach surf, a bit of indoor climbing, a road ride in the Marin Headlands and an epically dirty mountain bike ride on the flanks of Mt. Tamalpais all took place simultaneously.

Mitch dance

The skies cleared up a bit in the early afternoon, and here is what happened next:

The athletes all met at Boudin Bakery and, after eating their weight in sourdough and chowder, were assigned partners for a rather ambitious Amazing Race meets Bullit car chase scene scavenger hunt. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to put a bunch of seriously competitive athletes in tiny little cars and let them loose in pouring rain to find clues all over a major city with a couple awesome prizes on the line? We did – and it wasn’t pretty. Let’s just say that everyone was soaked, some were near hypothermic, laws were certainly broken, and not all cars stayed 100% upright. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries, and everyone returned in remarkably good spirits. We didn’t design it as a test, but given how positively all our athletes reacted to this ridiculous event, we immediately knew we had the right people on our roster!

Im off a boat

After a brief stopover at a local bar, the bus once again welcomed us aboard for a quick trip across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, where we hopped on a yacht for one amazingly cool dinner cruise around the San Francisco Bay. If you have even an inkling of hopeless romantic in you, it’s impossible not to be drawn in by the magic of cruising under the Golden Gate on a rainy night. I think I even saw a tear on the cheek of one of our freeride mountain bikers.

The bus ride back into town was one of the more memorable moments of the entire Summit. After two extremely busy days of company, athlete, and culture immersion, the vibe on the bus was initially quiet, as athletes and Clif Bar employees reflected on all we had been through together over the last 60 or so hours. But, eventually, the group was spurred on by a custom bumpin’ Timmy O’Neill soundtrack and the excitement of crossing America’s most beautiful bride, and everyone spontaneously busted out into a full-fledged dance party. It was awesome - a fitting end to a very memorable and impactful Team CLIF Bar Athlete Summit…if we do say so ourselves.

climbers flexing

Pending outstanding invoices, lawsuits and other unmentionable fallout, we can’t wait to do it all again with a different group of our athletes. It is truly amazing to see what can happen when you put so many great people in one place at one time.
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Events, Team Clif Bar

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We like getting our heart rates up, taking a big breath of fresh air, savoring delicious food. But we also love telling stories and here's where we type 'em up. (BTW, it works both ways; leave a comment—please and thank you.)

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