Chapter 1 - Origin Story

It was the summer of 2018. Marc Bhalla, a mediator and arbitrator, was on vacation with his family. The resort that they were staying at had a weekly race for guests to participate in. As Marc enjoys running, he decided to sign up.

On the morning of race day, Marc proceeded to the race's start area unsure of what to expect. While fellow racers comprised a variety of ages and fitness levels, all were grouped together as the race got underway.

Marc found himself in front early, but made the mistake of starting at a pace he could not maintain as the race wore on. Still, he was fairing reasonably well and staying amongst the race leaders.

As the group of race leaders approached the final 500 metres of the run, something interesting happened...

Marc found himself behind a gentleman maybe 10 years his senior, and content to finish behind the gentleman as the race concluded. However, the older gentleman noticed Marc behind him and started to encourage Marc to try to pass him.

At first, Marc did not think anything of it. Part of Marc wondered if the older gentleman was toying with him, but he decided to leave things be.

The older gentleman would not reciprocate. He continued to encourage Marc to pass him as the finish line drew nearer and started to shout such things as "You can do it!" to Marc.

At 250 metres to the finish line, Marc decided to give it a try.

As he dug down deep and accelerated for the final stretch of the race, the older gentleman cheered. As Marc passed, the older gentleman shouted "WAY TO GO!"

After they both crossed the finish line, the older gentleman approached Marc, patted him on the back and told Marc that he was proud of him. Marc thanked the gentleman for the support, collected his medal and went on his way. The two had not encountered one another before the race and would not do so again, but as soon as Marc showered and changed, the ADR Athletics domain name was registered.

The experience inspired Marc to think about the underlying principles of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and athletics. Not in terms of sport mediation but in terms of how he experienced collaboration in a competitive setting.

As in mediation, this encourages consideration of underlying interests. Both Marc and the older gentleman were in a race. On the surface, it might appear that they both wanted to win the race, but this was not, in fact, the case for either of them.

Marc participated in the race because running is an exercise he enjoys. While he wanted to get a good run in (as he is the type to enjoy that sort of thing on vacation) he was ultimately more concerned about matching his usual pace than where he stood in comparison to any of the other runners. This is why Marc would have been content to finish behind the older gentleman.

The older gentleman also did not care about winning, as his actions demonstrated that encouraging others to push themselves and do their best was what was important to him.

A win-win was achieved not only because everyone who completed the race got a medal but because both Marc and the older gentleman had a more enjoyable experience having collaborated in the course of participating in it.

ADR Athletics embraces this sentiment. It is focused on the well-being of ADR practitioners. Through the spirit of collaboration, the concept is to share stories and tips that encourage good physical and mental health, both within and outside of practice.

The goal is to help improve the quality of ADR service offered across the board, by taking care of the practitioners who themselves are generally more focused on everyone else.

Next: Chapter 2 - Collaboration in Practice