ITers escape through sporting adventures

Bungee jumping was once viewed as a pastime for nutters. These days, however, many more people are happy to hurl themselves off a...

Bungee jumping was once viewed as a pastime for nutters. These days, however, many more people are happy to hurl themselves off a precipice with only a rope to keep them from the ground, writes Roisin Woolnough.

Dangerous sports are becoming increasingly popular among IT professionals. In contrast to the timid computer nerds of folklore, many ITers are now seeking their thrills from risky sports.

Stephen Williams, IT director at training and enterprise council Focus Central London, is a keen motorcyclist and for the last few years has been in charge of a team that takes part in the British Superbike championships. "We are the satellite Kawasaki team," he explains. "There are three people in a team, but there are about 20 of us in all, with a few core members that go to all the events."

There are two other IT professionals on the team - a contractor specialising in NT systems and a Mac designer.

Williams has been a keen motorcyclist since he was 16 and finds that riding his Kawasaki is a good way to release the stresses of work. "There is a good atmosphere at races and it's an adrenalin rush. IT is a pressured life and this gets you out of yourself and relieves stress," he says.

IT is such a stressful profession that many people working in the industry like to pursue hobbies that allow them to completely switch off from the pressures of work.

Kate Bird, systems analyst at computer services company EDS, thinks participating in physical activity is a great antidote to the sedentary nature of IT. "You want to do something completely different from sitting in front of your desk," she says.

Bird is a regular surfer and skier who has recently run a half-marathon, been trekking in Madagascar and done a parachute jump. "The parachute jump was something I had always wanted to do. It was great and I am hoping to do another one. I crave all those adventurous things and rather than thinking that I should do it one day, I just go out and do it."

Bird says it is a great motivator and confidence-builder to pursue and achieve an unusual sporting goal. She also believes that it has helped her to make important decisions in the workplace. "It makes you more willing to take risks, which you often have to do anyway," she says.

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