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IT managers have a responsibility to keep staff motivated and morale buoyant, but team-building courses don't come cheap, and...

IT managers have a responsibility to keep staff motivated and morale buoyant, but team-building courses don't come cheap, and when budgets are tight they are often the first activity to get cancelled. Fortunately, Computer Weekly has the answer - Computastars, the IT industry's madcap version of the Olympics.

The annual Computastars competition started 25 years ago as a cross between TV's It's a Knockout and Superstars. Since then, more than 40,000 IT staff have competed in the event at 50 venues throughout the UK and mainland Europe.

Although many people use Computastars as an excuse to get fit, the emphasis has always been on working as a team and, most importantly, having a laugh. While there can be only one champion in each category, the event aims to ensure that hundreds of IT workers remember the summer they competed in Computastars with a smile on their face.

The event offers a good opportunity to meet other IT staff and lets companies put themselves on the IT map. This year we aim to make the event even bigger than ever to mark its silver jubilee, so if you want to get involved, complete the entry form below or visit www.computastars.demon.co.uk/.

What you need to know
  • The closing date for entries is 4 May 2002

  • There are four categories of team: men, women, men's veterans, and men's small units. You can enter teams in any or all of these categories

  • Each team must have between three and five members

  • In each heat there will six or seven events. A minimum of three competitors from your team must participate in each event

  • Computastars comprises a wide variety of events that are designed to test competitors' fitness, intelligence and ability to work as part of a team

  • To test teams' ability to adapt, they are not told which events they will face until the morning of the competition.


I never knew that
  • To date, there have been more than 200 Computastars heats, involving more than 10,000 teams of IT professionals

  • No one involved with the organisation of Computastars receives any financial payment other than basic out-of-pocket expenses

  • Requests to hold Computastars events have come from the US, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, South Africa, Ireland and Iraq

  • Thea Langen, Computastars' Dutch co-ordinator was awarded a special commemorative Olympic gold medal for her services to athletics

  • One competitor (still active) has taken part in 17 finals

  • The most successful company ever to compete, in terms of both team and individual winners, was Kalamazoo.


Computastars' wacky races
Hull 1994

Wiggling in and out of a floppy bicycle tyre was a deceptively difficult feat that the women performed decidedly better than the men.

Birmingham 1994
Stepping over bars should be easy, but when event organiser Gordon Cairns tied 5kg weights to each participant's legs and made them spin in circles everyone got very dizzy.

Belgium 1998
The most feared event was the tyre-pulling: hauling the Computastars truck up an incline.

Hull 2000
The strangest event of the
day was the caterpillar relay. Teams were required to work together to shuffle along in unison inside a plastic liner while carrying a medicine ball.

York 2000
For the ski run, teams put on a pair of wooden skis that had been custom-built to fit three pairs of feet and attempted to "slalom" through a winding course.

Jersey 2001
The eight-legged race saw three competitors from each team stumble back and forth with their legs tied together before strapping one of their number upside down onto a stretcher and carrying them back round the course.
This was last published in March 2002

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