PwC'ers cycle 700 kilometres through 7 Emirates in 7 days

08 April 2021 4 min. read

A massive consulting project with an eighty-hour week and no sleep may be one thing, but cycling 700 kms in that same time-frame? An inspiring team from PwC Middle East are doing just that.

Long travels are a common feature of the consulting lifestyle, but not so often by bike. This week has seen 14 colleagues from PwC Middle East set off on a 700 kilometre ride across the UAE, aiming to pass through each Emirate in the space of seven days. While that sounds like a gruelling challenge, the PwC squad has already covered more than 24,000 kilometres of bitumen over the past two months in preparation – with some of the riders completely new to cycling.

As team member Olga Zolotova pointed out, that collective effort equates to pedalling more than half way around the world, with more than 74,000 meters of elevation – or the scaling of Everest eight times over – thrown in for good measure. Zolotova, who serves as Lead Manager – International Markets for PwC Middle East, isn’t however one of the newbies to road cycling, or, for that matter, taking on seriously extreme outdoor challenges in the name of charity.

Project Possible 777

Previously, among many other endeavours over the past five years, the cross-discipline athlete has cycled 300 kilometres across Abu Dhabi’s Liwa Desert in only 24 hours, mapping a ‘picture’ of a gift in the sand in the hope of inspiring toy donations to orphanages and refugee camps in Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

She has also run seven ultra-marathons in all seven emirates in seven days, and scaled Mount Kilimanjaro and Elbrus, all in support of a variety of charities and causes.

Dubbed ‘Project777’, the benefactor of the latest challenge will be the Emirates Red Crescent’s Eid appeal, which was established in response to the global Covid-crisis, although the full details of PwC’s support won’t be revealed until after the team of riders have completed their 700 kilometre mission across the UAE. After nine weeks of training, that journey only this week, with some of the participants expressing their anxiety about the serious challenge ahead.

“Excitement and nerves being felt as we get closer to the big day,” said PwC senior proposal manager Sarah Butler in the lead up, credited by Zolotova with taking the lead on training and team motivation. “The past two months have been amazing, watching the less experienced cyclists take on the challenge and meet the weekly distance targets. Their commitment and determination has been key to their success and has spread throughout the team... inspiring!”

PwC'ers cycle 700 kilometres through 7 Emirates in 7 days

And on the eve of the trip, Zolotova added; “Yes, tomorrow early morning we will hit the road… From the team members vaccination to building the route, purchasing the bikes and gear, launching the charity, practising the drone, sleepless nights, early mornings, cycling at midnight. Every second of it worth it and every memory priceless. They say it’s not about destination but the journey. I say it’s about people you meet on the way. Well done team, you made this journey beautiful!”

“And let me add to it – some of my team members started from zero cycling base! And today I watch them covering hundreds of kilometres back to back and still smiling! That is why we call it #ProjectPossible. Yep, the growth is always outside the comfort zone. I said it before and I will keep saying it – the amount of effort, dedication and commitment I saw in these two months is beyond imaginable and no words can describe how proud I am of my teammates for reaching so far!”

Earlier, Zolotova described the challenge as a “showerless and bedless” trip across the country. “This is what commitment looks like to me!” she said. “I’m so proud to share it because I had a chance to watch their progress day by day: every victory and every fall, alarms at 4am or training at midnight, sweating on hilly rides or crossing triple digits, and every investment and sacrifice of the people on my team – now this is what I call discipline, dedication and teamwork.”

Other team members include Oliver Sykes, partner in PwC Middle East’s Digital Trust practice; manager Richa Joshi; and senior consultant Reda Berrada El Azizi.