This Iowa DOT team extends their reach far beyond the workplace

M2MIMG_3196What gets you out of bed on a Saturday morning? For a select group at the Iowa DOT, it was a 75-mile run from Jefferson to Des Moines which also provided a valuable lesson in teamwork that will enhance relationships between varieties of groups within the Iowa DOT.

The Market to Market® Relay, a run on the Raccoon River Valley Trail May 9, brought eight DOTers from various places in the agency together as one of 325 teams raising money for the trail and for Above + Beyond Cancer.

Tom Reis, from the Highway Division’s specifications group, said, “Ed Engle and I wanted to run the relay, so we brainstormed and came up with a list of people at the DOT who we thought might be up for the challenge.”

It took a bit of back and forth, but eventually the team came together. Reis and Engle, who works in Rail Transportation, were joined by Jeff Von Brown from Systems Planning; David May from Support Services; Ahmad Abu-Hawash from Bridges and Structures; Shawn Blaesing from Maintenance; Mark Lowe from Motor Vehicle; and James Hauber from Bridges and Structures.

“A few of us had worked together occasionally, but this is the first time many of us had met,” said Engle, who took on the role of coordinating who would run each of the 18 stages. “The stages were different lengths, and each person was able to choose the legs they were most comfortable running. For the most part we were able to schedule each person’s first choices.”

Training for the event took on a different look for each of the team members. Some were seasoned runners training for larger events, others were casual runners. When the chilly race day came, it was time to put the rubber to the road. Engle said, “With an eight-person team, we each ran two legs, except for Tom, who ran three. The final 0.2 mile was run as a team.”

Blaesing said, “When each person was running, the rest of us piled into Mark Lowe’s minivan and drove to the next hand off point. Participating in this pushed me out of my comfort zone. I was stuck in a van with a bunch of people I didn’t know very well, but I decided since I was training anyway for another event, I might as well enjoy the experience. With a positive shift in my attitude, I was able to get two of the best runs of my career and get closer to my summer goals.”

Besides the eight on this team, several other DOTers participated with other teams. Reis said, “We would get to a hand off point and see other people we knew from work. There was a lot of networking and making connections.”

At the finish line
Team members front row from left: Ahmad abu-Hawash, Tom Reis, Shawn Blaesing, Ed Engle, David May. Back row, from left: Jim Hauber, Mark Lowe, Jeff Von Brown

Reis continued, “I think my favorite part was running that last 0.2 mile as a team. The experience was phenomenal.”

“It didn’t matter how fast you ran,” said Engle. “The point was to set a goal for yourself and then meet that goal.  We finished the relay in 10 hours and 54 minutes, meeting our goal and developing bonds that will carry over for years to come, both in our personal and work lives.”

Developing those bonds is just one element of building a team. So what’s the difference between a team and a group of people working together for a common goal? A group is typically just a collection of individuals working on their own without much regard to a common end goal.  Teams work together, communicating and adjust their strategies, actions and goals based on the needs of the team and performance.

“Our team came from many levels and areas of the agency,” said Blaesing. “We were all brought together by a common goal and were there to encourage each other. We’re already planning for next year.”


Teamwork is one of the Iowa DOT’s core values, essential to helping us function as one team. Examples of teamwork that strengthen the agency can be found in the activities we do every day, including opportunities outside of work.  The trick is finding ways to enhance teamwork and take advantage of opportunities to build relationships when they present themselves.

To find more information on the Iowa DOT’s Strategic Plan at

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Have a comment?


©  Iowa Department of Transportation.  All rights reserved.