Win With The Energizer Night Race

I like to think I’ve come a long way since my first trail run, when I arrived at the venue, kitted up in all the right gear, headlamp on and about as confident as Mark Zuckerberg at a Social Media convention. Then the gun went off and I found myself panting after a 12 year old in converse and stumbling through the finish line what felt like 3 days later.

Trail running is a whole different ball game. I was used to flat roads, gentle slopes and dodging only traffic. Trail running involves precarious surfaces (think golf courses, rocks, rickety bridges and rubble). It also requires a lot more stamina due to having to concentrate every step of the way. But what. a. jol!  It’s an opportunity to go out at night with a bunch of people, often dressed like a bit off an oddball and run around forbidden spaces. Theres something quite liberating about dashing over the 9th hole on a larny golf course.

One of the more popular trail runs on the calendar is the Energizer Night Race which is now in it’s 8th year. So just like the battery, the event keeps on going (see what I did there?)

Energizer Night Race
Energizer Night Race

This year the Energizer Night race is being held at the stunning Central Park Trails in Jozi, on 1 December. It’s a Saturday night so there’s no excuse not to grab all your mates, family and running buddies and go through for what promises to be an action packed event (think 5 km run/walk fun races, 10km trail run, 12km team relays as well as a 40km mountain bike relay for teams of 2). The entertainment line up is a win, with the likes of Jesse Clegg (yes, ladies), local band Tokyo Groove, Code Red drum corps, string quartet ‘The Muses’, SA fire performers ‘Dreams of Fire’ and Laser X – a dance and laser experience show.

Sounds good huh? And from only 100 ronds to enter, it’s a no brainer if you are looking to be festively financially savvy. If you are keen to enter simply visit their website or like them on Facebook. You can also find out more about race and event details on these pages.

Now for the fun part. The super nice folk from the Energizer Night Race have given me two hampers choc-a-bloc full of goodies, to give to two of you. They are valued at R1500 each and consist of various Energizer items, an Enrista coffee hamper a Salomon t-shirt and a 32Gi hamper. Everything an avid runner needs before the big race!

To win one of these hampers all you need to do is follow @nightrace_sa on Twitter and then tweet why you need want to win this hamper with a link to this blog (I’ve shortened it here just to make life esier – wp.me/p1ZuF8-7Q)

I will be picking the 2 winners in the next few days, so enter as many times as you like, and good luck!

For a bit of visual stimulation, this is a piccie of what you can win :

Energizer Night Race Prize
Energizer Night Race Prize

Also, be sure to check out the video from last year’s race

Share your trail running experiences with me below – would love to hear them!

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The Proposal

This is our story – and sure to go down in the books as one with many laughs and comedy of errors!

A few months ago Barry – the then boyfriend – ‘won’ a sales award at work. Yay for us we thought as he claimed a free weekend away at a venue of his choice. In true Barry style he kept the destination a surprise, only mentioning it would be in The Kruger Park area. (I of course used every available opportunity to remind him that he couldn’t claim this as a romantic gesture, as it was a free holiday…Barry just nodded and smiled). We booked the dates, I took leave and we carried on as normal. A few weeks later I happened to be planning one of my besties bachelorette parties, and while liaising with the other Bridesmaids we decided on a date, booked the venue and bought the theatre tickets. Cock Up #1 – I had now double booked the bachelorette and our weekend away.

I first became suspicious when Barry reacted in a not-so-calm manner, and was seen sighing and huffing and puffing on the phone and email to his ‘boss’ to try reschedule. Panic calmed down to relief when the holiday was pushed out by a week (Shame, I had now added on an extra 7 days of panic for the poor boy)

The night before we were due to leave I booked a spray tan to test out before the above-mentioned Bride-to be’s wedding, thinking that should it go orange (it did), tan my hands and feet an obscure shade of tangerine (it did) and make me look like Snooki (you guessed it) at least there would be no-one to see me on our weekend away. Haha, jokes on me. Cock-up #2.

Friday morning we leave for the destination – incident free apart from me whining like a baby about my post spray tan catastrophe tequila induced hangover – and arrive at a rather larny Rose farm/Spa/Slice of Heaven – Summerfields Estate. Ooh I say to Barry, this is quite nice hey – Your company has really spoilt us. Barry just nodded and smiled.(Disclaimer, all his work had to do with the engagement weekend was give him leave -the rest was up to him, and his 3 months of planing really paid off!)

Post (mouthgasm) lunch and quick nap we decide to go to The Kruger Park for a late afternoon game drive. It was fairly chilly and drizzly at this point so I pop on my comfy hoodie and granny loafers. As my dad would say – nothing brings the man out in me like the bush. Poor Barry (isn’t he lovely for loving me?)

We arrive in the Kruger Park after several confusing who-is-our-driver-what-the-hell-is-going-on-moments and finally hop on our game vehicle. Sans any other guests… Ding dong Kearney! After half an hour of driving and chatting to our wonderful ranger Pat, we pull up infront of a massive koppie and get told we can go up it to have a sundowner (we had a trusty 6 pack of Castle Lite with us).

I walk up this bloody hill to find a tatty old blanket and a bunch of daisies in a broken vase, knocked down from the wind. Panic stricken I point an accusatory finger at Barry and to the offering in front of me and say ‘What The F*ck Is This!?’. Barry looks back at me with such confusion on his face that any inkling of a proposal evaporated. (Turns out the folk at the Kruger Park had added the ‘rock picnic’ in – much to even Barrys surprise.)

So, Cock-up up #3 is now the ring is in the backpack in the game vehicle, and we are standing on top of said hill like awkward fairies. ‘Let me go get your phone’ says Barry. ‘No babe, we dont need it’ I say. This goes on for a few seconds until he shouts in satisfaction ‘Instagram, you need to Instagram!’ and promptly runs back to the vehicle. All the while our game ranger is animal spotting with his rifle and pretending to ignore us’

I wont go into the whole proposal part, just to say that despite the sweet but slightly tacky efforts from the Park (they even threw in a bottle of JC Le Roux, despite requests from my now fiance to send ANYTHING but JC) it was a proposal that couldn’t have suited me better. The bush, my love and some wonderful stories to tell for many years to come!

PS – Glad to report that while I still looked like an Oros man, the rest of the weekend went off as smoothly as could be and I managed to drink my body weight (a skill!) in delicious bubbly and tequila.

Happy days!

The Rock On The Rock
The Rock On The Rock

Celebrations
Celebrations

 

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DIY for Party Planners

Ive had the honour (see what I did there?) of being a bridesmaid for several of my lovely friends – and one of the best things about that is knowing that with each bash comes new opportunities to make fun DIY items for the celebration.

I’ve put together large affairs and very intimate ones, and waned to share a few fun DIY craft tips, for anyone looking to throw a bit of a celebration for a bride to be. (Or any celebration really)

(Tip: If you aren’t Photoshop adept, find a designer fined like I did with my colleague Kim, big help!)

Make your own photo booth by pasting wallpaper or wrapping paper on a large flat wall. The one I used below was for a 1950’s inspired party hence the red polka dots. I borrowed the frame from an art gallery and bought props from China Town (budget!). I also supplied a chalk board and chalk for people to write their own messaging.(Board and props not pictured in the image).

DIY Backdrop
DIY Backdrop

For the same party we labelled the various cheeses with wedding themed names (Bridesmaids Brie, Garter Gouda… you get the picture). I also labelled all the wine glasses with fun sayings from the ’50s and the definition. This also helped with people knowing which glass belonged to them. 22 bottles of wine later however, no-one really cared.

Say Cheese!
Say Cheese!
Handmade Wine Labels
Handmade Wine Labels

If you are hosting a smaller gathering, instead of using name tags for the table use a photo of the (insert guest of honour) and all her guests, then prop these on the table using a frame or crocodile clips. What I did with these was add a section on the photo and asked each guest to write a message. The bride-to-be got to take these home as a momento from the night.

Personalised Place Cards
Personalised Place Cards

A fun idea if you are hosting a baby shower is to ask all the guests to bring a baby photo of themselves. The mom-to-be then needs to guess who is who. This can also be used for birthdays or bridal showers. If using it for a birthday – ask the guests to bring a photo of themselves at the age they have known the birthday girl for. She then needs to guess who is in the pic. Failure to do so results in a tequila fine (Really, my favourite party trick!)

Who's the baby?
Who’s the baby?

 

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What would you do , if you weren’t afraid?

What would you be capable of doing, if you didn’t have fear? It’s a question I’ve been asking myself for several months now, and the answer is ‘much more’. I’m not sure if this fear I am feeling has something to do with growing up, nearing my thirties and generally becoming more aware about the futility of life? When last did you see a young child not jump in the water, for fear of the cold or harm? Not often I’m sure. Post swim, said child will be all blue lip smiles and chattering teeth. Why then, as adults are we so terrified to do what brought us so much joy only a few years earlier?

Lately I have been even more bothered by this question, as I’ve experienced something so utterly terrifying, I’m actually embarrassed. As you may know I started training for the Half Iron Man event in January next year – an intense race broken up into a 1.9km sea swim, 90k cycle and a 21 km run. Who would have thought that I’m considering quitting the training and selling my entry because of the swim?

I jokingly recounted my first open water swim a few weeks back, and even mentioned how I was going to do another swim (part of a triathlon) the next weekend to ‘get over my fear’. I may as well have stated I was just going to ‘hike to the moon’. That swim proved to be one of the toughest and draining experiences of my life. To find yourself suspended in 13 degree dam water, surrounded by hundreds of swimmers, 200 m from land, whilst having an panic/asthma attack, sobbing and needing to throw up was a horrendous experience I wish never to repeat. Even after the lifeguards had come to take me to shore, I still refused. Some (still sane part of me) refused to quit. ‘Harden up Kearney’ I told myself, more than once, as I repeated the above process for 3/4 of a kilometer until I managed to get to dry land. (I can honestly thank my very patient boyfriend for not leaving my side the entire time, for me not completely losing it). Once I got to shore I handed in my timing device, quit the rest of the race, and spent the rest of the day in a very dark and sad place. Not my proudest moment.

So what now? Now I learn how to face my fear, and not feed it. I grew up swimming in pools and swimming for my school. Pop me in the clear blue waters of a Virgin Active and Im positively dolphin like. So why the fear of open water? Too dark? Too cold? Too open? Who knows, all I know is that my fear of that, along with every other paranoid feeling and thought I have needs to be eradicated now. So there you go fear-demon – from now on you shall be starved and left to die.

Off to give it a 3rd attempt on Saturday. Hoping it will be a ‘dam’ good experience!

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What would YOU do, if you weren’t afraid? 

 

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BSG Triathlon Series

After months of training for each discipline I finally merged the three and took part in my first triathlon. It was the Hartabeespoort leg of the BSG series. The distance is what’s known as a ‘sprint’ (600m swim, 27 km cycle and a 5 km run)

I hated the swim and almost got out the water after having a mild panic attack. It was my first open water swim, and having several hundred bodies crash into you, pull you down and kick you while you battle to breathe is very uncomfortable. I walked/breaststroked most of it. the cycle was brilliant and I loved every second – it also helps when the route is fairly flat. Pity about the no-road closure as I found myself waiting behind some slower riders at times. The run felt like I was walking backwards in cement shoes, but I finished in a decent time. 

Swim – 15 mins

Bike – 57 mins

Run – 27 min

To overcome my fear of the water I’m taking part in another sprint tri this Sunday.

Less than 3 months to Half Iron Man!

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Would the real social media influencer please stand up?

Here’s an idea: “take this product and send this to some online influencers and get them to tweet about it.” Yes, that is a common brief to an agency, and no, you should not simply go ahead and get that done. Unless you’re the Reserve Bank and your product is money, simply sending stuff to an influencer is unlikely to achieve the campaign success you had hoped for.

This type of brief makes me wonder who thinks of of these promotional items, and how well they researched the recipient? It’s becoming an all too familiar scene on the ‘socials’, scrolling down your Twitter feed and catching a glimpse of a generic ‘thanks brand X for Y gift’ followed by a customary Instagram of said item. People can smell an obligatory punt from a mile away. It’s not uncommon for my timeline to be filled with repetitive brand mentions. I see them, and move on. Nothing about that sort of tweet would get me to stop to consider the product being mentioned, or make me want to go out and purchase/buy/drive/taste it.

It’s rare for a mention like that to connect with anyone but the recipient which defeats the purpose. There have however been many times when I have stopped to read a post, purely because the nature of the mention evoked some emotion in me. Take a recent incident for example: a well-known blogger tweeted about his beloved dog falling ill and a few hours later Vodacom had sent him a care pack for his beloved pooch. Something about that made me go all, “aaw, shame” and so I became engaged in the story. Turns out his dog recovered and most likely the gesture brought a smile to more than a few faces.

You could say it’s because I’m a hardcore dog lover, and that’s why it evoked an emotional response from me, but I believe it’s such a great story because the owner, clearly a dog lover himself, received an appropriate gift that would not only resonate with him, but also make his sick pup feel better.

I’ve experienced a few incidents of brand love myself. One of the most applicable being a few years back; it was a slow Monday morning at the office, the coffee machine was broken and I was nodding off at my desk. I tweeted how my day could really use a caffeine kick and about 30 minutes later a hamper of assorted coffee arrived on my desk. Very clever, very smart and very quick.

It’s the same principle as the Nordstroms ‘urban legends’. If you haven’t heard why this company is known for its killer service – read here. The reason this super store has got such a great reputation around customer service is because each and every one of the stories sound too good to be true. Yet, they aren’t.

Most of us in the media and communication industry have at one time been guilty of the ‘spray and pray’ method, whether it’s sending out a mass press release or generic gift to many in the hopes of catching a few nibbles. I would like to challenge us to change this mass approach. Firstly, cater your gestures to the individual, and secondly, when next targeting a person, take into consideration a bit more than their Twitter followers or Klout score. Look at who they are as an individual; identify their hobbies, likes, dislikes and environment. I can guarantee that an average person who is active on the ‘socials’, yet who is obsessed with food, baking and blogging would be far better suited to receiving a ticket to a food show, than a digital ‘guru’ whose hobbies include music, fast cars and woman.

South African agencies have a tendency to continually target the same people over and over again. Take dried up soapie actors appearing on most TV shows, radio DJs hopping from one station to the other and 20 online influencers receiving every free gift under the sun. Unfortunately it’s a vicious cycle, which only serves to exacerbate the problem – if these people don’t tweet about it, they dot get free stuff, so they do and the gifts keep arriving. Why not invest some time, take a step back and identify a new range of people to target – people who have passions, dreams, desires and a voice. Just because someone doesn’t have thousands of followers on Twitter, doesn’t mean that they have no voice.

Often it’s these stories that spread faster and wider because they’re more genuine than a simple product drop to the usual suspects.

*First published on www.cerebra.co.za

Engage with your influencers as people, not prospects
Too True
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Texting and Dying … er Driving.

Not to go all Oprah on you, but stop it! If I have to drive infront/behind/next to (insert other preposition here) another idiot swerving off the road, swerving into my car, slowing to a crawl on the highway or wreaking havoc around him all while in a must-read-vital-bbm-update-or-I-will-die coma, I will physically drive your car off the road and high five you in the face. I will then take your phone and give it to the next homeless person I meet.

To be fair, I used to be one of those people, but I realised that it’s just not worth the risk while driving on our (already very dangerous) South African Roads.

By the way – this message applies to any driver who applies makeup, reads a paper, plucks their eyebrows, paints their nails or plays on their iPad while driving. How much of a doos will you feel like when you crash your BMW into a curb (or worse) simply because you just had to get that text message out.

If I’m not getting my point across., then maybe this video will. (Hey cynics, this actually happened in the UK)

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Comrades Marathon 2012

Along with Miss South Africa and Tellyfun Quiz, Watching the Comrades Marathon was a South African tradition I grew up with. There was never a year that passed by by in our house when the TV wasn’t turned on early on a Saturday morning and all throughout the day we would glance up and see brave souls crossing the finish line, and some who didn’t.

I didn’t grow up in a running family so watching that race on TV was the closes I ever got to the actual race, until last year when we drove to Durban to watch a mutual friend run it for the first time. The experience was exhausting and crazy, and for my boyfriend, a challenge

This year he ran it for the very first time, along with his dad who ran it for the 13 th time, his brother in law who has a few under the belt our friend from last year and 10 of our running club crew.

Waking up at 2:30 am to drive the runners to the start set the tone for the rest of the day. Hurry up and wait. I admire Comrades supporters who pour through Pietermaritzburg in their thousands, complete with camping chairs, refueling goodies, skottels blankets and snacks. The role of the supporter is to arrive at a designated spot a few hours before, set up a station and then watch for their runner to come through, screaming and shouting for all the other runners as we do so, then move onto the next spot If I was nervous waiting for Barry to come through the points, I can’t imagine how he must have been feeling. Luckily, armed with woollies snacks and a crew of dutiful watchers, we found Barry and Pierre at all the stops and then headed off to kings mead stadium for the finish.

I can’t begin to describe the noise, the crowd and the vibe when you arrive. Runners.are.everywhere all doing the trademark ‘Comrades shuffle’. To watch a poor runner try and tackle the stairs after running solidly for up to 12 hours is quite a thing. Luckily we managed to find a spot on the crowded grandstand and wait for the guys to arrive. Barry was hoping for a 9 hour time which qualified him for a Bill Rowan medal, and when he hadn’t come through the finish at 8:50 I was in a state. When he did run under the massive balloon arch at 8:58, high giving everyone and smiling from ear to ear I was ecstatic! Our friend Pierre came in under 11 hours and I am happy to report both of them, although quite ‘eina’ and sore today, can live to tell the tale.

You often hear people refer to all athletes as ‘winners’ but when it comes to the Comrades I couldn’t agree more. To see you challenge yourselves in a run which most people believe to be impossible, and to cross/sprint or crawl across that finish line is a privilege. To all 180000 runners who took part this year – you are amazing.

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Meet Amy, she’s a runner.

Meet Amy, one of my oldest and best friends (more like a sister after all we’ve been through). Amy recently got married, isn’t she just lovely?

Maybe if I laugh loudly they’ll think I was just kidding?

Amy also recently drank too many glasses of wine and agreed to do something she never thought she would do – run the 2013 Two Oceans Half Marathon. This is her guest post :

I’m all knee caps and elbows and big teeth.

I should have known that a sweatband and reflective running tights would make me look like the girl version of Owen Wilson. I should’ve pictured my knees knocking and skew shoulders flopping with every step I planned to take but, sadly, this didn’t even cross my mind when I typed out the words that sealed my fate: “Challenge accepted. Boom.”

Boom indeed. The sound of my almost-size-8 running shoes slapping the treadmill. The sound of that novice gym moment when you jump (okay, and scream) because you had no idea an iPod could be that loud in your ears. The sound of my heart smashing into the sides of my head after only 2 minutes of treadmill time. Running is hard man!

However, I do have to admit that it is rewarding. Although I’m nowhere near fit, I can already see my abs trying to reveal themselves and my ‘wobbly bits’ are less wobbly. I feel stronger and have even had my first pounding session like when hot chicks in movies take out their anger on a treadmill (except, I look less like Megan Fox and more like The Fantastic Mr Fox with running shoes).

I have gone from marathon book reader and cake eater to evangelist runner with iPod strapped to bicep in just 4 weeks. Will I be running the Two Oceans Half Marathon in 2013? Challenge accepted. Boom.

 

Cant wait to run with you in 2013 my friend!

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