Most graduates lucky enough to land lucrative City jobs spend the rest of their lives chained to their desks, working hard and playing harder. Not Rob Martineau, Tom Stancliffe and Guy Hacking. This phenomenal trio ditched their corporate careers and turned an obsession with “ultra running” into Tribe – a natural sports nutrition brand that is set to take the market by storm.
It all started with a 1,000 mile run across eastern Europe, the equivalent of 39 marathons in 30 days. Not content with completing the Marathon de Sables – dubbed the toughest footrace on Earth – the trio wanted to do something “bigger”. Not only that – they wanted to do something for “social justice”. Rob explains:
“We had heard about the human rights organisation Love 146, which aims to end child trafficking and exploitation. It was looking for £250,000 to build a home for victims. The cause really resonated with us and so we started thinking about how a bigger run could take shape.”
They picked eastern Europe because of its obvious connections with child trafficking. The idea was to run from Odessa in Ukraine to Dubrovnik in Croatia, carrying all their supplies on their backs.
Despite the extreme nature of such a run, they quickly realised the three of them would not be able to raise the necessary funds without help. And so the event was opened up, via social media, to anyone mad enough to join them. In true Forrest Gump-style, people started to do just that. By the time they ran the last 1/2 marathon into Dubrovnik there were 250 runners with them. Over £250,000 was raised.
It is an inspiring story, but perhaps even more impressive is what they did next. During the 1,000 mile run, the trio had struggled to find the right food to keep them going. They noticed their performance lagged when they had eaten junk food and they craved wholesome, easy to consume, natural food. In the past, and especially on the Marathon de Sables, they had relied on home-made trail mixes but there are only so many of those you can fit in a backpack.
And so the idea for Tribe was born. The company sells snack boxes via a weekly subscription service aimed at runners and athletes. Each box contains a selection of “tried and tested” products that contain no refined sugars or sulphites, are wholefood-based, GM-free and dairy-free. Tribe is also a running community that organises events across London. In addition it has a social ethos at its core – with 10p from every box going to charity.
For Rob, running extreme events has become part of his DNA. “I spend a lot of time doing long distances. I just love the self-sufficiency of it, being in a natural landscape with just my backpack for supplies.”
The “amazing community feeling” is another reason why Rob keeps coming back for more. He recalls a bizarre moment during the 1,000 mile run when they didn’t realise a mountain pass in Montenegro was closed due to snowfall and they ended up coming out on top of a black run in a ski resort. There were ten people on that leg at the time and Rob, Tom and Guy left a trail of Haribo sweets so that everyone could find their way through the snow.
With the rise and rise of extreme events such as Tough Mudder and Ironman Triathlons, combined with our obsession with clean eating, it seems Tribe are onto something. Like Forrest Gump, these three could just keep running with the idea.