The Aid Station is a series of daily interviews with inspiring people. Many of the interviews will be with "ordinary" people from small businesses across the globe with amazing stories to tell to High Profile Industry leaders.
This week we travel to Launceston, Tasmania, which is an island south of Australia to meet Victoria Bhojwani Cunningham, Director of Marketing & PR, APAC, Spartan.
She shares her fascinating story on how she studied film but ended up being in the mass participation events industry.
Hear how her big break came after being interviewed by Spartan Founder & CEO Joe de Sena at the birthday party of one of his children.
Listen to our interview as she shares her challenges during the pandemic and how she overcome them, leadership principles that kept her going and some people who inspire her to continue along the way.
#TheAidStation #MassParticipationWorld #ChrisRobb #MassParticipation
"The comeback is always stronger than the setback"
This week on The Aid Station, we interview Dave McGillivray, Race Director of Boston Marathon and President of DMSE Sports.
He was diagnosed with coronary artery disease, a condition he had always assumed wouldn’t be an issue for him. When he received the news, he did everything he could to reverse the condition. But it wasn’t enough.
He was faced with the choice to keep his condition a secret from the running community, or choose to share his experience with the world. He chose the latter, urging others—especially the fittest of athletes—"if you feel something, do something."
His transformation from fit athlete to fit and healthy person has inspired others to seek counsel from their physicians, which may have saved countless lives.
Listen to our interview as he shares his inspiring story and his purpose to raise the self-esteem and self-confidence of tens and thousands of people.
This week on The Aid Station, we are joined by Eleanor Western, Director, Logic Safety Solutions Ltd, in Birmingham, England who shares her bold story of starting a new business in the midst of COVID.
Eleanor didn't plan to be in the events industry but life had better plans for her. Hear how a job in the events safety team at Capita immediately got her hooked by the dynamic nature of the industry. The job gave her the opportunity to work on some huge events including the London Youth Games.
In the process she has worked with some amazing people & formed numerous trusted partnerships. So, despite the Pandemic it was not a huge leap of faith to team up with Alan Tungate & Chris Woodford to service an important need for the industry.
Whilst, like any startup, it hasn't been without it's challenges including working from home with her two young sons, Leo & Mylo, initial signs are positive. It's been a team effort in many ways with husband Wayne providing support with the boys to enable Eleanor to build the business.
The opportunity to be back at a few live events, the huge appreciation from clients & seeing the joy of participants has been a huge positive.
Listen to find out more of what inspired Eleanor to take such a leap of faith.
On this week's The Aid Station, we head to Hong Kong where we are joined by a veteran in the Mass Participation Industry - William Ko.
William is the Senior Vice-President of the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association where he has served for over 50 years. He has also been Chairman of the Organising Committee of the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon for 24 years.
One of his key observations in organising marathons is that each one has its own character and challenges. For him one of the biggest challenges was during the 1997 Hong Kong marathon when it ran across the border into China. "To start with I really didn't know how we were going to do it" he said.
Subsequently, in Hong Kong one of his biggest achievements has been to persuade the government to agree to a more urban route on major roads to attract more participation and help grow the event to over 73,000 runners.
The past year has been incredibly tough with the double blow of political unrest and the Pandemic. Listen to his take on how he has overcome those challenges and the focus on ensuring that he is able to keep his team employed.
Listen to our interview below.
#TheAidStation #MassParticipationWorld #WilliamKo #ChrisRobb
This week on The Aid Station, we head to Chicago where we are joined by Jonathan Broutin, President of the Seagull Institute.
Jonathan leads, manages and develops educational & professional programs for over 2,000 students.
Hear how some of his childhood experiences of travel laid the foundation for him to move from his native France to live in Chicago. It ultimately gave him his big break from Michael Nishi which presented the opportunity to partner with the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
Of his 10 years in the industry, 2020 was supposed to be the best year ever for his business. Best in terms of finances and impact. But COVID-19 hit hard and everything changed. Programs and flights bringing students from France were cancelled and they had to pivot and make everything a virtual experience.
Listen until the end when Jonathan shares the people, mentors and leaders who have inspired him to become a better person. One important person is Betty who at 94 years old is the oldest volunteer at the Chicago Marathon. She is an inspiration to not only him but to everyone in the team. She truly displays the "can do" attitude Jonathan wanted to impart to his students.
Listen to my talk with Jonathan now.
#theaidstation #MassParticipationWorld #JonathanBroutin #SeagullInstitute #ChicagoMarathon #CanDoAttitude
On this week's The Aid Station, we head to Tokyo, Japan, where we are joined by Osamu Uemura, ASICS Corporation, Commercial R&D Lead.
Osamu manages the business development team, sources the new technology and business ideas for creating minimum viable products to commercialise.
In this episode he shares how he started in the industry - working for an insurance company, a professional soccer team, a non-profit organization, getting an MBA in the United Stated, then he joined ASICS digital team in Boston. He also talks about how life has been like in Japan during COVID and the possibility of in-person events in a few months and how they adapted by creating virtual events. Between November 11 to 22, they are doing the first World Ekiden Race. The Ekiden is a Japanese relay that’s all about teamwork, rivarly and competition.
Learn more about the event here: https://www.asics.com/gb/en-gb/mk/asics-world-ekiden
Listen to the end for his tips on leadership, mentorship and meditation that helped him develop his management skills and to keep himself calm.
Watch my talk with Osamu now.
#TheAidStation #MassParticipationWorld #ASICS #WorldEkidenRace
Today on The Aid Station I have the privilege to meet Lornah kiplagat at the world famous High Altitude Training Centre in Iten, Kenya.
With a career that includes participating in three Olympics, winning four World Road Running Championship titles a World Cross Country title and breaking 16 world records you may expect the conversation to be mostly about training and racing but it goes way beyond.
Listen to the entrepreneurial insights of how an idea 20 years ago has become a magnet for both elite and recreational runners from around the world to train and be part of a community at 2,400m above sea level. Hear what motivated her to launch her African inspired sports brand 'Lornah'.
"My Dad told me 'if you make your own decision you don't have to be pushed, do your own way and make sure you prefect it' ". It seems that Lornah has succeeded in perfecting many things.
Another theme that comes through is a passion for helping others. Hear of the challenges of helping runners stranded in Iten as a result of COVID-19 to get home and of getting back to Iten herself from her home in Holland. Lornah had only landed back in Nairobi a few days before we spoke earlier this week.
Watch my talk with Lornah here https://youtu.be/gomYZY0PS_E
Thanks Jan Schuttert for the introduction
It's been a while since we have visited Latin America on The Aid Station and today we head to Guadalajara, (yes I had to practice the pronunciation many times) Mexico to meet Tomás Antonio Gallo Padilla General Director, Guadalajara Council of Sports.
There is no doubt that the city of Guadalajara puts a huge emphasis on getting it's citizens outdoors and active and that COVID-19 has necessitated the implementation of some creative alternatives which has included the creation of a huge amount of digital content.
Last week the City would ordinarily have celebrated the 16th anniversary of closing what now amounts to 20.8km of roads every Sunday for over 100,000 people to come out and be active in both structured an informal activities. That has not happened since March but there is hope it will return in the next few months.
Tomas is also President of the organising committee of the Guadalajara Marathon and Half Marathon. Make sure you listen till the end to hear the inspiring story of the prisoner.
Watch Episode 80 here https://youtu.be/sade180h-d8
Today's edition of The Aid Station takes a distinctly off-road route as we head to Paisley just outside of Glasgow, Scotland to meet John Kynaston, host of the Run to the Hills podcast.
A wonderful story of a man with strong Christian roots whose journey includes working in Bangladesh and India during which time his four daughters, including twins, were born.
John's return to the UK saw him work as a pastor and 10 years ago joining Glasgow City Council as an Active Schools Co-ordinator. Another example of the wonderful impact of sport and activity on the lives of kids with some of the stories of transformation during COVID-19.
Watch the screen light up as John shares his passion for trail running which lead him to writing a blog and more recently taking over the Run to the Hills podcast.
Listen to his insights into the impact of the Pandemic on the trail running calendar in the UK and an interesting case study on the often asked question of "to rest or not to rest in between races"
When it comes to inspiration, hear the amazing story of Donnie Campbell who ran for 32 days to beat a 10 year old record of running up all of the 282 Munros (mountains over 3,000ft) by 7days. https://youtu.be/H__oQubRbZw
Listen to my chat with John here https://youtu.be/UzmxzAqWooY
Today's episode of The Aid Station takes us to Taipei where we meet Zach Fan, race announcer for XTERRA Taiwan and China.
Taiwan has been a global leader in the way that it has managed the pandemic and was one of the first countries to return to professional sport with it's baseball league. "Life has been almost normal for months now and we only have to wear a mask when we go outside and we are able to see our friends and participate in activities".
Although XTERRA has chosen to cancel events until 2021 there are now running events happening each weekend with significant numbers of participants and the Taipei Marathon is set to go ahead on 20 December. A few days before I spoke to him Zach had been the announcer at a 3 on 3 basketball tournament at a shopping mall.
One of Zach's biggest challenges has been missing out on the opportunity to inspire participants and spectators at the finish line of events but he has used his spare time to study. It has included learning Japanese so that he can welcome the many participants from Japan over the line in their native language.
Listen for his two key tips on leadership which he learned from his boss Charlie. "She is an amazing leader and has taught me so much".
Watch my interview with Zach here https://youtu.be/mmyIqowuvWw
On today's episode of The Aid Station we head to Honolulu to meet Janet Clark, President, TEAM Unlimited LLC, affectionately known to many as the "XTERRA Mamma".
Hear the wonderful story of how an exchange student trip from Australia sewed the seed for what has now been 40 years in Hawaii and a journey immersed in her passion for advertising, tourism and events.
Janet's resume includes the Waikiki Ocean Fest which had 200 events in 10 days and more recently heading up XTERRA globally which has obviously had its challenges in these times including missing the camaraderie and banter of being in the office.
"We are currently in lock down which means no social gathering so that's me and my dog at home and I'm going to have to learn how to speak dog soon".
When it comes to inspiration "There's a couple of things that float my boat one is get outside if you can and enjoy mother nature and the other is challenged athletes. If these guys are out there running with one leg or mountain biking with one arm - what's your excuse"
"And of course there's the wonderful community that is XTERRA and we have made sure in these times that we help keep them connected through XTERRA Connect".
Watch my fun and inspiring chat with Janet here https://lnkd.in/dgkcjCV
Today on The Aid Station we head to Wellington in New Zealand to meet Bengy Barsanti, Owner, Barefoot Sport NZ and Managing Director, ONETIME.
Bengy has had a wonderful journey which has seen him play professional ruby in Italy and drive community and schools sport in Scotland before returning to his roots on the stunning Kapati Coast outside Wellington.
He is driven by the power of Mass Participation sports to engage and unite communities and especially inspired by the opportunity for his three young daughters to participate.
As most people may know, New Zealand has been able to manage COVID-19 better than most and although events are now back on the calendar in Wellington it came at an in-opportune time for Bengy and his team as they were rolling out an exciting new timing solution.
"Back in February we had an amazing X-Terra Event with nine simultaneous races and 107 timing points which generated amazing feedback but then we had to hit the pause button"
"But it gave us a great opportunity to do more planning, review our strategy and we are so lucky to be back racing"
Watch Episode 76 here https://youtu.be/bFiUaVz62AU
On today's episode of The Aid Station we meet Michael Nishi, Partner, Chicago Event Management, organisers of the Chicago Marathon.
Another inspiring story of the power of our industry to impact and change lives. Hear how Mike as a 13 year old was watching the race, which in those days attracted a few thousand people, to cheer his mum on. He decided to run a few miles and ended up going all the way to the finish line sucked in by the atmosphere.
A fascination with the race was born which saw him first work as a go-fer doing odd jobs and ultimately teaming up with Executive Director, Carey Pinkowski. Together they transformed the event into one of the prestigious Abbott World Marathon Majors which now attracts around 45,000 participants.
Hear Mike's insights into the roller-coaster ride leading up to the recent cancellation of this year's event and some of the many considerations against the backdrop of not only COVID-19 but also the violence and crime that took place in the city.
Despite all that, the passion is still there to get back to staging events and creating an impact on the community, providing a vehicle to unite people and raise much needed funds for charities.
Listen to Mike's inspirational story here
On today's edition of The Aid Station we head to Ashdown Forest in England to meet Sarah Kenny, Founder and Director at Gladiator Events.
A wonderful story of yet another person in the industry who is working their passion and also an insight into one of the many thousands of small teams that create such an impact on the lives of so many people.
Listen to Sarah's story of following her dream of getting into events by sending out over 200 letters which led to three interviews and a job in corporate events. Despite amazing opportunities of traveling in style to amazing locations something was missing.
Her calling was answered when she got a role working on army style boot camps and ultimately broke away to set up Gladiator Events with a focus on delivering bespoke obstacle races for charities which includes the Muddy Dog Challenge for owners and their dogs.
Her team of two full time staff and a number of interns deliver 20 events in a normal year. This year is obviously not normal and Sarah expects the pause between her last event and the next one will likely stretch to 20 months. The inspiration from participants and volunteers are helping to make the wait bearable.
Watch my chat with Sarah here https://youtu.be/4bFlFHyKHyM
Today's edition of The Aid Station is a fascinating interview with Carlo Capalbo, President of Run Czech, in the beautiful city of Prague, Czech Republic.
Get an amazing insight into the origins of the Volkswagen Prague Marathon - it involved a long dinner with the legendary Emil Zatopek and a handful of table napkins with the first course sketched on them!
Carlo himself is a legend of the industry and an innovator who has made a massive contribution in many ways over decades including being Chairman of the IAAF World Running Commission for four years.
During COVID-19 he and his team at Run Czech have managed to create a program of unique events that have seen almost 12,000 runners in total being able to participate in safe events.
Make sure you watch until the end to hear Carlo's take on what the industry will look like five years from now and stay tuned on September 5 when he will be making a big announcement that will look to influence that journey.
Watch my talk with Carlo here https://youtu.be/dKXSZLiBUs4
Today's episode of The Aid Station is another inspiring example of the ability of Mass Participation events to create huge impact on communities. We travel to the beautiful Maldives to meet Mohamed Mirshan Hassan, Senior Manager Brand & Marketing Communications for Dhiraagu and Race Director of Dhiraagu Maldives Road Race.
It's a great story of how a brand achieved its business objectives and went many miles further. Dhiraagu is the biggest telco in Maldives and the original idea of staging a run to promote its broadband services which attracted 150 runners in 2007 has grown to a sold-out event of over 4,000.
The event raises huge amounts of money for children's charities, attracts tourists from all over the world and touches much of the community in some way.
Listen to the challenges of organising an event in the island capital city of Male which is one of the most densely populated in the world and covers only 8.3 square km.
COVID-19 has created huge challenges for a country that relies on tourism albeit that life is slowly starting to open up which means that Mirshan has the opportunity to go cycling with his three sons at the weekends.
Watch the episode here https://youtu.be/YDwcN0wARXc
After 70 episodes of The Aid Station in 15 weeks I hit the proverbial wall last week and my wife, Tet Bermejo Robb, who does the late night editing, and I decided to take a short break with our son Sam.
It’s wonderful to be back and going forward we will be reducing from five to three episodes a week. Thanks for the amazing support and feedback so far - it has been truly humbling.
Today is a very special edition as we head to the UK to meet former World 5,000m record holder Dave Moorcroft OBE who was one of my childhood heroes. Many fond memories of sitting on the sofa with my late father watching him on TV.
Sometimes in life we are lucky enough to meet our heroes in person and it doesn't always go according to the script. I got to meet Dave at a conference in Riyadh last year and the experience was amazing - a more humble man would be hard to meet.
Dave has many wonderful insights to share including the importance of the simple things and his longing to be able to give his grandchildren a hug.
When it comes to inspiration it is probably no surprise to hear him point to another equally humble man, Paul Sinton-Hewitt CBE, Founder of parkrun, who Dave works closely with in the UK.
Watch my talk with Dave here https://lnkd.in/gVXXKbY
We wrap up The Aid Station this week in Massachusetts, USA where we meet Kimberly Ashworth, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Ashworth Awards.
Whilst these are dire times for the bulk of the industry the massive boom in virtual events and the demand for locally produced medals has proven to be a boon for this family run business albeit in the early stages they had to turn to manufacture of personal protection equipment to keep the factory open.
At one stage it was literally all family hands on deck with Kim, her husband and company President, Dan, their two daughters with their boyfriends and the family dogs in the factory around the clock to keep up with demand and cover the gaps of staff working from home due to COVID.
Hear Kim's insights into the virtual running space and the fact that some events in the US are getting more runners for virtual events than for their normal races.
Make sure you listen to the end to hear Kim's personal inspirational story.
Listen to my conversation with Kim here https://youtu.be/_Td9U5Vncb0
On today's edition of The Aid Station we make a fascinating and inspiring trip to Ramallah, Palestine to meet Mazen Khatib, President of Palestine Athletics Federation.
Another incredible example of the power of sport and our industry to change lives as Dr Khatib shares the story of the Palestine Marathon in Bethlehem which has grown from 400 to 7,000 runners in eight years and how Global Running Day in Gaza was a vehicle for Hamas allowing girls to run in public for the first time.
Listen to the challenges he has helped overcome to set up a track program which includes the building of two concrete tracks. "It was so hard for our runners to train in the sand so we built two concrete tracks, one of them is not even 400m long because of limited space".
COVID has been incredibly tough with strict lock-down and a huge impact on the already struggling economy. "Some days we just do not know what to do but we look for solutions". Part of that included a recently completed World Athletics officials accreditation course conducted using zoom.
Make sure you listen till the end to hear some of the inspiring stories of young athletes in the track program.
Be inspired here https://youtu.be/8qaNr6K49hU
We start this week at The Aid Station in Sydney talking to Chris McCormack, Chief Executive, Mana Sports & Events Group whose projects include Super League Triathlon.
'Macca' shares a reminder of the power of sport and our industry to inspire generations as he tells how, as a 10 year old boy, watching Sebastian Coe overcome adversity to win gold at the LA Olympics inspired him to take up running. It launched a journey that took him to two IRONMAN and a Triathlon World Championship.
The journey continues with creating commercial ventures in the industry albeit heavily curtailed by COVID-19. He was due to travel to Rotterdam next month to be at the inaugural SLT Arena event - a mix of virtual and real racing but travel restrictions make that unlikely.
Listen for his frank and open comments about what he has learnt about himself and his management style as well as the challenges of closing down the Singapore office.
Watch my interview with Chris here https://youtu.be/QLN6GPc-uMI
We finish the Aid Station this week in Amsterdam talking to Camiel Slaats, CEO, MYLAPS Sports Timing.
COVID-19 has had a massive impact on the timing industry but to some degree MYLAPS, as a market leader, are fortunate to have the diversity of also providing solutions for motor sports which is now back in action.
"We have an office in China so we saw it coming and were able to be prepared, especially from a health and safety perspective which is the most important to safeguard our employees". Some have had to be furloughed but ensuring their financial well-being has also been key.
Camiel shares how communication has been a priority including contacting customers to help them with payment plans. "We want to take care of them and support them when they need us".
Innovation has also been a focus. "We were able to come up with some new initiatives very fast. Giving ownership to the staff is important and as a result we saw a lot of creativity" One of those initiatives was outsourcing staff to companies that are very busy which has created a win:win:win.
Camiel is very excited about the future "there are more runners and cyclists than ever before so I am very confident of the future for our industry"
Watch Camiel's fantastic insights here https://youtu.be/Ke-Usp7Zwz
On today's edition of the Aid Station we visit Bosnia Herzegovina to meet Vladimir Selec, Race Director, Banja Luka Half Marathon.
Hear the story of how Vladimir was bored while living in the Ukraine so decided to enter and train for a marathon in Kiev. "I got hooked on it and then we moved to Banja Luka and I felt that I had to share it and so started the Banja Luka Half Marathon."
That was six years ago and the event has grown to 6,000 runners "in good weather". It seems that the people of Banja Luka are fair weather runners so the fun run component of the events is not so well supported if it rains. This year the event has been moved to October in the hope of a dry day but COVID has brought much bigger challenges.
Life under COVID "has been tough, its been rough. We are trying to learn, trying to adapt but we don't know what is next and we are trying to survive. We are always tight with funds and the sponsors are now not so open".
Make sure you listen to the end to be reminded of the power of our amazing industry to positively impact lives "When I came to this city there was no one running ... we started with a few kids and its now one of the biggest events in our region".
Be inspired by Vladimir here https://youtu.be/3xTaG3eTWnE
In a somewhat late start to The Aid Station this week we head to Pregens, Austria where we meet Gunter Ernst, Race Director of the 3 Country Marathon.
Another example of someone following his passion in the Mass Participation industry with his Race Director role being an addition to his day job of running a sports medicine laboratory looking after both professional and amateur athletes.
The Three Country Marathon takes in Austria, Germany and Switzerland with much of it around Lake Constance and is scheduled to take place in October but with approvals from three countries is probably more complex than many but "right now we are on".
Lockdown has recently ended after two months and a few smaller events of a few hundred people have started. It was a challenging time of not being able to work or earn any money for over two month although it did create an opportunity for Gunter to spend time with his children Maja, Rosa and Nico.
Make sure you listen to the end to hear the inspiring story of the person who approached Gunter weighing in at 160kg two years ago with the goal of running a marathon. He now weights 95kg and will run in the 3 Country Marathon in October.
Watch my talk with Gunter here https://youtu.be/85PoFzvCPXY
We round off this week on The Aid Station with a trip to the resort island of Bintan, Indonesia just an hour's ferry ride from Singapore to meet Abdul Wahab, Group GM, Bintan Resorts International.
Bintan has developed a reputation as a Mass Participant destination particularly for people from Singapore with a portfolio of events including Tour de Bintan, Indofood IRONMAN 70.3, Bintan Marathon and Triathlon built up over the past 15 years.
The island has been hit hard by COVID-19 with visitor arrivals of around 90,000 per month in January plummeting to just a handful of people - mostly returning Indonesians.
"Typically we had five ferries from Singapore each weekday and 10-14 on the weekends. We now have one per week with sometimes only 3-5 people on it". Hotels across the island have been moth-balled and thousands of staff are out of work.
"The one positive is that we have remained totally COVID-free and the hope is that we may soon be able to open up to events but that will require agreement between Singapore and Indonesia to re-open the border".
Listen to my talk with Wahab here https://youtu.be/53oTnM1Z2Eg
On today's episode of The Aid Station we head to Nottingham, England, to meet Melanie Berry, Co-Founder, Her Spirit.
When COVID-19 broke Mel was in Majorca and had the realisation that "our business model is now completely flawed because it is all around those Mass Participation events that won’t happen anymore so how do we continue to live and thrive"
Hear the story of how Mel and fellow Co-Founder Holly Woodford took the opportunity to pivot their business with a focus on their digital offering to continue to support their community of women and grow their business by 300% in the process.
"Community is at the heart of everything that we do so women had the opportunity to be supported through our three pillars of mind, body and fuel."
The Her Spirit community is filled with inspirational stories of women who have overcome adversity like 50 year old Marie Moss who has completely turned her life around since discovering exercise and becoming a "Her Spiriter".
Listen to my chat with Mel here https://youtu.be/8N7g_PFV5dQ
In these challenging times when there is limited good news of events going ahead today's episode of The Aid Station provides a ray of hope as we travel to Athens to meet Makis Asimakopoulos, General Manager, Athens Marathon, The Authentic.
On Friday it was announced that the event will go ahead in November with two races of 5,000 runners spaced one hour apart and when I spoke to Makis yesterday the race was already close to sold out. The Athens Half Marathon postponed from March to September will also go ahead.
"Greece has done extremely well at managing the pandemic with early lock-down and other measures".
Makis shares details of how the races will be managed - essentially broken down into multiple waves of 500 runners with hugely detailed social distancing plans at the start line with mini waves of eight runners sent off every few seconds. Well worth listing to the intricate details.
Its hard not to get swept up with his passion and enthusiasm for the event that he has been instrumental in managing the growth of the event. "In 2006 we had an event with 4,000 people and last year 14 years later we had an event with 60,000 people so the passion has paid of".
Watch my talk with Makis here https://youtu.be/ZtGRx_oWBvs
On today’s episode of The Aid Station we head to Milan, Italy, to talk to Enrico Fili, CEO, RCS Sports & Events DMCC.
Usually based in Dubai where he heads up RCS operations for the region he had just flown home to spend time with his parents when I spoke to him.
Hear about the massive challenges that he faced when the UAE Tour became one of the first sports events to be cancelled on 27 February as a result of COVID-19 with two stages to go.
“With athletes and race staff quarantined in hotels we were working non-stop for days. I would turn on my phone and get 600 WhatsApp messages”.
“One of the most inspiring things was the collaboration and the way everyone worked together. Especially that there was never any finger pointing or blame towards the infected bike mechanics”.
Enrico’s most important piece of advice to anyone in the event industry “make sure that you have contact tracing in place”.
Watch my insightful chat with Enrico hear https://youtu.be/mHATXOEqUNk
This week The Aid Station starts out in Quito, Ecuador where we meet Elena Nolasco Diaz, General Manager of Bike Family.
Elena, an economist who was born in El Salvador, shares how her passion for triathlon resulted in meeting her husband, Christian, building a business together distributing Felt bikes to Ecuador, Panama and Columbia and then gaining the rights to GFNY.
Life under lock-down has been busy with the arrival eight weeks ago of their "COVID baby daughter" and the ongoing challenge of trying to stage the second edition of their event. Elena and Christian are used to challenges - the first edition had to be postponed because of political demonstrations.
Road cycling is relatively new to Ecuador and challenging due to the mountainous terrain as well as traffic that is not always cyclist friendly so attracting 500 cyclists to the first edition of the postponed event was hugely satisfying.
"We got told that we are inspiring people by putting on the race but in the end it was us that got so inspired by the people doing the race. It was amazing to see so many people who are not actually athletes going through the finish line. We had a blind rider riding 100 miles on a tandem bike."
Watch my chat with Elena here https://youtu.be/LGPBDiBTOpA
The Aid Station has had a strong Antipodean flavour this week as we close off in Auckland New Zealand talking to Scott Rice, Managing Director, Quantum Events.
Like parts of Australia, its exciting times for the industry in New Zealand where events are able to come back without social distancing limitations.
Its been something of a roller-coaster for Scott and his team. They had to cancel the last three races in their Ocean Swim series (www.oceanswim.co.nz) due to COVID-19 earlier in the year but this week were able to launch their seven race series for 2020/21.
Scott shares how being decisive and courageous as a leader in the early stages of COVID when he decided to cancel the events lifted the pressure of planning multiple "what-if" scenarios and focusing on the next series.
Listen to the end to hear his inspiring story of age being no barrier and the joy of high-fiving an 85 year old competitor who participated in every race of the series.
Watch my talk with Scott here https://youtu.be/xHy-BFB6xvM
On today's edition of The Aid Station we meet K. Nichapa Yoswee, CEM, Senior Vice President, Business, Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB) in Bangkok.
Its exciting times in a country which prides itself for amazing hospitality and a normally vibrant events industry of which Mass Participation is a key pillar. Thailand has been COVID free for 32 days and events are starting to return, albeit with strict guidelines.
In a scenario which seems different to most parts of the world where our industry is forming alliances and coalitions to lobby governments for the return of events, TCEB (a Government organisation), recognised the impact of events and approached key organisers to explore collaboration.
The result was TCEB lobbying key ministries such as Health to help move Mass Participation sport and other events from the back of the queue.
Hear the story of how K Nichapa started in the fledgling Thai events industry over 30 years ago and has gone on to her current role helping shape Thailand as a preferred destination for events.
"We can always change the world and the changes start within us. We have to think big because we can never go beyond what we think." Clearly K Nichapa thinks big.
Watch her story here https://youtu.be/wPh30orNNwk
We are back in Australia again for today's edition of The Aid Station where we head to the other side of the country to Sydney where we meet Nat Heath and hear a hugely inspiring story.
Those of you that watched Episode 37 with marathon legend Rob de Castella AO MBE would have heard him speak about the program he founded with the Indigenous Marathon Foundation. Nat is a proud Aboriginal man and a 2012 graduate of the program.
The program culminates in each participant running a marathon and in Nat's case that was supposed to be the TCS New York Marathon but Hurricane Sandy had different ideas. Instead Nat and his fellow runners ended up shovelling mud in the basement of an apartment block to help its residents.
He ultimately completed the Tokyo marathon the following year and has gone on to finish four marathons and six IRONMAN events including Kona. On July 12 Nat will run 100km as part of the Run Sweat Inspire Festival http://www.runsweatinspire.org/.
What makes it all the more remarkable is that in 2010 Nat was diagnosed with Guillian Barre Syndrome and went from playing First Grade football to barely being able to walk.
Listen to Nat’s amazing recovery and the many lessons from the Aboriginal Marathon Project here https://youtu.be/FXiNppacQco
Today’s edition of The Aid Station is a glimmer of hope in the dark tunnel of event cancellations as we head to Perth, Australia to meet David Budge, Operations Director of The Event Team (WA).
As restrictions are lifted in Australia, Dave and his team were able to announce last week that they have approval for their mountain bike and trail running event to go ahead in September.
Some great insights into the background as well as the excitement that it has brought to the team.
Follow the highs and lows as Dave generously shares the challenges of having to shut down his former business in 2018 and the support of the community that helped him through.
The time out gave a great opportunity for perspective, re-evaluation and a different business model which has him loving his work again.
Be sure to listen until the very end to hear his inspirational story of a 97 year old participant.
Watch Dave’s story here https://youtu.be/-3w2fDuvwqA
We start off this week's Aid Station in Tuscany, Italy where we meet Lidia Fluhme, Co-Founder & President of Gran Fondo New York, Inc.
Hear the inspiring story of how her husband, Uli, took her to Italy to ride in a Gran Fondo "which was the toughest event I had ever done, even harder than IRONMAN" and inspired the creation of a business that now has 22 events in 17 countries.
"I said if they can have it in Italy why can't we do it in New York?" So they swapped their banker and lawyer jobs on Wall street to create something that is "passion and purpose driven." Gran Fondo New York was born and ultimately became GFNY.
Despite the 2020 calendar likely shrinking to 6 or 7 events there is plenty to look forward to. "As endurance athletes we love the challenge and we will overcome it. Each day I ask myself 'what can I do today to be the best I can tomorrow?"
Be inspired by Lidia's story here https://youtu.be/Coby9Et0m1E
On today's episode of The Aid Station we head to Monaco to talk to CEO of World Athletics, Jon Ridgeon
Jon has spent his life in sport including being a double Olympian and World Championships silver medalist in the 110m hurdles, to broadcast and various elements of sport business including being one of the creators of The Diamond League.
"My life has been athletics which is why it's so exciting to be here, it feels like the culmination of all my experience over the years."
COVID-19 has been full of challenges but importantly lots of exciting opportunities. Jon talks about his recent return from London to re-open the World Athletics offices which have been closed since early March. "We have 30% of our staff back, another 30% will return next month and I think by August we will pretty much have the full team back"
We have been working really hard and one of the things we have really embraced has been connectivity with our stakeholders." Listen for some of the initiatives and a commitment to be a "campaigning organisation for the sport .... to ensure that we get more people moving through running".
Make sure you listen right to the end to hear the wonderful quote Jon shares from the President of the Oceania Federation.
Watch the episode here https://youtu.be/KIUyrEcnkY8
On today's episode of The Aid Station we head to Manchester, England to meet a man who has barely had a day off since COVID-19 started. Marcel Altenburg is the Senior Lecturer and Program Leader, Crowd Science at Manchester Metropolitan University.
He has been working with the likes of the Bundesliga and English Premier League to help with their return to play plans and also works with numerous Mass Participation events including Chicago, New York, London and Berlin marathons.
"It's almost contradictory as we obviously can't have crowds anymore so our job is to help events make sure that crowds don't build up." That has involved countless hours of modelling which changes constantly depending on prevailing guidelines in each country. "If England reduces to 1m tomorrow it's obviously a whole new set of modelling"
Marcel is yet another Aid Station guest who counts his job as his passion. As a former Captain in the German army and keen runner he is well qualified to sit in command centres supporting Race Directors as they make decisions. His key advice on leadership "listen".
Watch my talk with Marcel here https://youtu.be/X2sdXnGqW2I
Today on The Aid Station we head to Beijing to meet Kevin Li, Deputy General Manager at Wisdom Sports Group, one of the biggest organisers of marathons in China.
Kevin shares the challenges of having to lay off close to 40% of their staff. "At the end of March there was a fun run with 1,000 runners in the west of China and we thought that would be a sign for opening of events but unfortunately not"
"Life between April and May was getting better and we were able to go out but since last week everything changed." The recent spike of cases in Beijing emanated from a market near him and resulted in him having to be tested for COVID-19 late last week.
"For business the biggest challenge of course is to keep the company alive" Kevin also shares how important strong leadership in the company has been. "My boss is the Chairlady of the Group. She told us from the very beginning this is going to be a long fight and we need to be prepared" He shares some of the initiatives that were put in place to try something different
Watch my interview with Kevin here https://youtu.be/qOUuUwef1Ho
We kick off The Aid Station this week in the stunning medieval city of Tallinn in Estonia where we meet Renna Nelis, General Manager of Tallinn Marathon.
Renna has a fascinating story which includes deciding that "if I am to organise a marathon I need to tick the box and run one". That was back in 2009. "I ran Venice Marathon and am now hooked and have run 17".
At the time the Tallinn event did not have a marathon distance included but it was added with a city centre finish and since then has grown from 12,000 runners of which 100 or so were from overseas to 24,000 from 65 countries of which 5,000 are from overseas.
One of the challenges of COVID has been continuing the planning for this year's event in September whilst still on maternity leave and working at home with three daughters under 7 and the youngest almost a year. "Luckily my husband is a school teacher and schools are closed so he has been able to help with the girls."
On top of being a mum, a partner in the business which has organised over 400 events across running, triathlon, cycling and ski races, Renna is also on the AIMS Women's Commission. No doubt Renna has inspired many people and she gets her inspiration by regularly reading the stories of other runners.
Watch my talk with Renna here https://youtu.be/dQTwAXGsOxA
Today is Episode 50 of The Aid Station and with huge satisfaction we head to the Gold Coast in Australia to meet Robbie McEwen AM, three times Tour de France Green Jersey winner and now cycling commentator.
We hear some of his insights into this year's Tour and about the impact of COVID-19 on some of his many hats beyond the commentary roles including organising the Robbie McEwen Gran Fondo, running a cafe and his own cycling merchandise brand.
Normally, Robbie, his wife Angelique and children Ewan, Elana and Claudia would have been on a plane this weekend to Angelique's native Belgium for their annual pre-Tour holiday. That's been pushed back till August but "it's presented the opportunity for me to spend time with my family. It's the longest time that Angelique and I have spent together since we met".
Watch my chat with Robbie here https://youtu.be/s6veInoc6nU
On today's episode of The Aid Station we head to New York City to meet Michelle Doti Taylor, Global Head of Sports Sponsorship for Tata Consultancy Services.
Listen to Michelle's amazing journey that has helped her follow her childhood passion for sport to working for the likes of Disney, New York Road Runners and now one of of the biggest sponsors of Mass Participation events globally.
COVID-19 in New York with three children has not been without its challenges but one of the key sanity checks was the opportunity to get out and run. "It reinforced for me that we are made to move. It was not easy to keep my daughters active and one day I put a step counter on one of them to help get the message across. She only walked 300 steps in the whole day".
Be sure to listen till the end to hear an inspiring story that epitomises the amazing ability of our industry to create powerful impact.
Listen to Michelle's story here https://youtu.be/G4YUCXCzAGI
On today's edition of The Aid Station we travel to Lagos, Nigeria to meet Bukola Olopade, CEO of Nilayo Sports Management Limited & Access Bank Lagos City Marathon.
He shares the extreme challenges of life for people in Nigeria under the COVID-19 including his own hospitalisation for three weeks with the virus. "Many people in Nigeria live from hand to mouth so if they do not work there is no money to make their soup at night."
"The heroes for me are the doctors, nurses and domestic people who looked after me and the ability to look at things and say 'together we can conquer' which has really epitomised the attitude and changed my views about the way we do things in this country"
Listen for his story of the immense impact of the Access Bank Lagos City Marathon and the trail-blazing role he has played in creating an event with over 75,000 participants.
Bukola shares an interesting take on leadership taught to him by his Mum. It embodies the importance of giving young people the opportunity to lead and is reflected in his organisation which is filled with young, bright, passionate people blazing a path which embraces the digital age.
Watch my talk with Bukola here https://youtu.be/4rCrorPWm-A
Today on The Aid Station we head to Calgary in Canada to meet Kirsten-Ellen Fleming, Executive Director, Run Calgary.
Hear how a chance meeting with Sir Richard Branson helped change Kirsten's career path from a journalist to a role that is as much about her passion as it is about work. "Its just a dream job, I absolutely love it and feel so fortunate to have fallen into it"
There are times during COVID-19 when that passion has been stress-tested including coming back from California and being quarantined for two weeks while preparing to take the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon virtual. It was due to be at the end of May.
"It was two weeks of around the clock from 6am to midnight as many race organisers can attest to. At one point there were 30 different options and budgets so it was really chaotic but the outcome has been amazing."
Kirsten is hugely excited about what lies ahead post-COVID. "I cant wait to get back. I think there is going to be this like, renaissance, back to grass roots. This pure back-to-basics love of the sport".
Watch my interview with Kirsten here https://youtu.be/GZ-fmtZ1KQA
We start off this week's Aid Station meeting another industry trail-blazer Ayman Hakky, Founder and Managing Director at The TriFactory in Cairo, Egypt.
Ayman shares how his journey switched from a semi-professional water polo player and passionate footballer to a triathlete after he tore his ACL playing football. It ultimately projected him along a path which has seen him bring the sport to Egypt and build a business in the industry.
"I got hooked on triathlon while traveling to races overseas and came back to form a triathlon group and then I thought it would make sense to start organising similar events in Egypt"
From a first event in 2013 with 150 participants Ayman's company now delivers a porfolio of events including triathlons, marathons, trail runs, Tough Mudde. His last event before lock-down, which seems like a must do if the photos are anything to go by, was the Pyramids Half Marathon with 4,000 participants.
Inspiration for Ayman comes from watching others overcome adversity "what Beruit Marathon has achieved in similar circumstances to Cairo inspires me to match their success in the future. "
Watch the interview with Ayman here https://youtu.be/LeaSTCvaWc8
We round off this week's Aid Station with a trip to Galway, Ireland to meet Joanne Murphy, Founder of Tri Talking Sport.
Joanne has worn many hats in the industry and what bursts through is her love of Mass Participation events and people. When her core business of finish line announcing disappeared overnight she seems to have barely skipped a beat with a focus on her podcast, hosting webinars and inspiring people.
On a personal level she went into a bubble with her sister and mum "my sister would be considered a vulnerable adult and my mum is almost 70 so your first priority is to protect yourself and your family" The lifting of the lock-down has been a huge relief "I'm a real social person, I need people"
Joanne is a firm believer that "every cloud has a silver lining. In 2011, I had a fractured pelvis. The cloud was that I couldn't race IRONMAN in Galway, silver lining I was given the chance to commentate on the finish line and I now have a career that I love".
Watch the show with Joanne here https://youtu.be/6UVlTB0xGxk
Today on The Aid Station we head to Kuwait to meet Ahmed Almajed, Founder and Managing partner at Pro-Vision.
Ahmed and his team have been trailblazers for the Mass Participation industry in the Gulf which has seen them grow from start-up 13 years ago to a portfolio of over 40 events across multiple verticals today with the Gulf Bank 642 Marathon as one of their showcase events.
The COVID-19 lock-down has had a big impact on their calendar and a number of events have had to be postponed and cancelled but it has given them an opportunity to innovate with a number of well received virtual events.
As of this week 20% of their team is able to start working from the office again and "its great to be able to have face to face discussions again" as they plan for a return to events at a still undecided date.
In the meantime, positively impacting people's lives drives Ahmed forward. One of the things he talks about is how "sport changed my life". It is one of his biggest inspirations getting feedback that he has changed the life of others "nothing feels better than being appreciated and we get it on a daily basis"
Watch the show with Ahmed here https://youtu.be/K45xkrK1cWM
On The Aid Station today we head to stunning Montenegro in the Balkans to meet one of the most passionate people I have spoken to on the show,
Igor Majer, CEO of Multisport Academy Mayer.
Igor has been a trailblazer in his country's relatively new Mass Participation industry. Since 2016 he has built a portfolio of events which includes, triathlons, ocean swims, business runs and was this week awarded the rights to the Podgorica (the capital of Montenegro) Marathon.
He shares how his first event in his home town of Kotor attracted only 45 people but has grown into the largest half distance triathlon in the Balkans with over 600 people in a few years.
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on his business with a number of events postponed but you can't help feel certain that his passion and commitment which have seen him finish multiple IRONMAN and extreme events will see him through.
Make sure you listen to the end to hear his take on where inspiration comes from.
Watch the show here https://youtu.be/RnUAqkAnyUM
On today's edition of The Aid Station we head to Singapore to meet FOX Sports anchor presenter Colette Wong.
It's always a delight to catch up with Colette who, along with Alan Wilkins, was the announcer at my first event in Asia, the JPMorgan Corporate Challenge back in 2004. Her energy, enthusiasm and humility always shine through.
Colette shares how a chance conversation with a friend gave her the opportunity to follow her love of sport and become a cub reporter at Mediacorp. It was a tough decision at the time as part of her heart was in Italy where her boyfriend Luigi lived.
Fast forward over 20 years and Luigi is her husband and father of their two children and her media star has risen to make her one of the most recognised faces in Asian sports media. Listen for one of the keys to her success in what at that time was a male dominated industry.
COVID-19 has presented a wonderful opportunity for the family to spend quality time together in their Singapore apartment and all Colette has really missed is playing tennis with her "Smashing Steffies" team and catching up with her Mum.
Watch my fun and uplifting chat with Colette here https://youtu.be/dmBnHdpfbeE
Today on The Aid Station we head to Berlin to meet Mark Milde, Race Director of BMW Berlin Marathon.
Mark shares the story of his father, Horst, founding the race in 1974 which gave him the opportunity from a young boy to serve his apprenticeship working in every area of the event before ultimately taking over as Race Director in late 2004 when has dad retired.
He talks about how the family-owned business has worked hard to ensure that so far none of its staff have been laid off despite the event which was scheduled to be hele on 26/27 September not being able to take place.
Whilst the event has not yet been formally cancelled and the team from SCC events are exploring all options Mark seems to accept that it's increasingly unlikely that the event will be able to take place this year.
"This is an opportunity to review our operations and see where we can innovate and maybe come up with some new event concepts and ideas. We can think of ways to do things differently and be more flexible for the future"
"In a global world we have to collaborate and take the best from different countries and I'm sure in the end we will get it back together again".
Watch my talk with Mark here https://youtu.be/9S-oXnB8qzI
We round off this week on The Aid Station with Edition 40 in Beunos Aires, Argentina, where we meet Luis Vinker, Race Director of Beunos Aires Marathon.
The lockdown in Argentina has been strict and has seen Luis who's day job is working for the local newspaper mostly locked down at home with little opportunity to go outdoors.
It has had a massive impact on the economy and lives of it's people who are sports mad with the obvious passion for football and also rugby.
Running is popular and growing with 20,000 in the half marathon and 11,000 in the full. The events are known for their fast scenic routes which attract many of the world's best and opportunities for PR's.
Luis talks about inspiring moments of cancer survivors running in the events but one of the highlights which sounds spine-tingling is the 20,000 participants in the half marathon signing the national anthem on the start line.
Listen to my talk with Luis here https://youtu.be/R1vYcodS57c
On today's edition of The Aid Station we head to London to meet Sam Renouf, CEO at Professional Triathletes Association and the first person I've interviewed for the show to have had COVID-19.
Sam talks about the debilitating impact of the virus which both he and his wife Nat, who is a doctor, contracted.
He talks about the challenges and opportunities that the virus has created for the newly founded PTO including the cancellation of their inaugural event The Collins Cup which was due to have taken place in Slovakia at the end of May and will now take place at the same time next year.
One of the opportunities has been the chance to support their elite athletes by distributing the $2.5million year-end ranking purse early to ensure that athletes can survive the shutdown.
"Its an interesting dynamic for the athletes, many of whom had to deal with the massive mental knock of the Olympics being postponed."
"We are seeing how they are responding differently to the potential opportunities. Some are seeing it as the chance to really focus on improving on a specific area and going all out while others see it as a time to pull back, take some time out and focus on their health".
Watch the interview with Sam here https://youtu.be/2yhJ69aeISY
Today's edition of The Aid Station is, for me, one of the most inspiring so far as we travel to Durban, South Africa, to meet running icon, Blanche Moila, the first black woman to represent the country in athletics.
In addition to her amazing running achievements, Blanche's personal story is inspiring on so many levels not least of all her current daily challenges as a psychiatric nurse. "COVID-19 is having a massive impact on mental health. We are admitting patients with no idea if they are infected at the time so obviously must take all precautions".
Blanche's humility shines through despite all of her achievements which include being awarded the State President's award from Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki. She is credited with inspiring Mandela and other prisoners who used to watch her run on TV from Robben Island.
More than once I have heard here referred to as "like Mother Theresa" for work she does in the community which includes her Achieve Before you Conceive Foundation aimed at reducing teenage pregnancies.
Tenacity and mental strength is clearly the mark of any successful runner. Blanche recently accumulated 25km in one session running 50m laps in the parking lot of the complex where she lives.
Be inspired by watching here https://youtu.be/jQ0bBsT3e9Q
A special edition of The Aid Station today where we meet Australian Marathon Legend and former World Record holder Rob de Castella AO MBE in Canberra.
Many wonderful insights in the show from Rob's time as an athlete to his time as CEO of the Australian Institute of Sport during the golden area of Australian sport around the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
We talk about the founding of Deeks Health Foods and the impact of grain intolerance that goes far behind celiac disease which is more widely known, and the incredible work he is doing with the Indigenous Marathon Foundation.
The impact of COVID-19 on the program which takes indigenous runners on a journey of self discovery that culminates with them running the TCS New York Marathon has been somewhat of a double-edged sword.
It has resulted in numerous challenges but has also meant that the transformation to more of a digital program has meant more runners can be accommodated and creation of the virtual Run Sweat Inspire Festival in July: https://www.runsweatinspire.org/
Listen to the end to hear Rob's advice on the importance of speaking up with your idea or opinion even if it is different to that of others in the room.
Watch my hugely inspiring talk with Rob here https://youtu.be/c2AQgw6NTM4
On today's edition of The Aid Station we head to Jakarta, Indonesia, to meet Christopher Tobing
His passion for Mass Participation events started in Australia where he ran his first half marathon with only two weeks of training "probably the dumbest thing I've done in the industry" but has seen him go on to create his own foundation and the annual delivery of an ultra-marathon fundraiser NusantaRun.
The event, inspired by Oxfam Trailwalker, is run between different cities in Indonesia each year with all funds raised donated to an education program in each city.
Whilst locked down in Jakarta one of the biggest challenges has been missing the social aspect of meeting face to face with clients but one of the big realisations has been "now my network is not Jakarta, now my network is global"
Watch my chat with Christopher here https://youtu.be/N8hK_WUwdWw
On today's edition of The Aid Station we meet our first sponsor when we head to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to talk to Van Anh Nguyen, Head of Marketing at Techcombank.
Techcombank have a huge commitment to Mass Participation which includes Title sponsorships of IRONMAN 70.3 and the Ho Chi Minh City International marathon in their portfolio.
Whilst there have been significant budget cuts "this is very important to us and we are proud of our ongoing commitment to the races"
Van Anh lives by the motto of Be Greater "my philosophy is I don't compete with others, I try to improve myself a little bit every day. I used to set big aspirational goals but I couldn't complete so now I set small goals every day and every week".
"I used to be this person that couldn't run and slowly I used little goals to build to a marathon. The journey is as good as crossing the finish line" which for Van Anh includes finishing TCS New York Marathon.
Watch my talk with Van Anh here https://youtu.be/L37DdSRVCLA
Next week is very special on The Aid Station with two running legends. We meet Blanche Moila the first black woman to represent South Africa and an inspiration to none other than Nelson Mandela while in prison on Robben Island and former world maratrecord holder @robert de castella
On today's edition of The Aid Station we head to Tel Aviv, Israel, to meet Eitan Hefetz, Co-Founder and CEO of Pic2Go, a market disrupter in the participant photo space.
As the father of an active 5 year old boy, I can only imagine the challenges him and his wife, Ronit, have had managing three young boys and a global business which spans 40 countries from home during lock-down.
His business relies on partners and one of the key challenges has been supporting partners "Cash flow has been challenging but we have been sure not to exert pressure on our partners. We are all in the same boat together and this is about long term relationships."
"One of the things we have noticed across the board is creativity, for instance one of our photographer partners has started to service the real estate industry"
"We have also focused on continuing to engage the community, runners are here, they are passionate to run again and it doesn't cost a lot to stay engaged"
Eitan has been inspired by how quickly people and businesses have adapted. His hope is that "we will keep the good stuff once this ends"
Life is starting to return to normal in Israel after a strict lock-down with a number of events this week announcing September dates.
Watch my talk with Eitan here https://youtu.be/guwC_dC0ua
One of the common themes of The Aid Station interviews is the number of people that say to me "I'm so lucky that my job is my passion". Today that theme repeats as we travel to London to meet Hannah Clark, Events Director at Limelight Sports
Hannah shares her journey from tennis to mass participation "I love the variety of campaigns we run and the amazing opportunity to do something really authentic that's about much more than just sport."
Heading up an event delivery team of 12 people of which 10 are currently furloughed has not been without its challenges "but we make sure that we check in with all the team on a weekly basis whether they are working or not to see how they are going personally"
Leadership has been key and the "example set by our CEO Craig Dews has been amazing especially his honest and open communication which has inspired the whole team to feel comfortable to do the same."
Hannah lives in the countryside and has the opportunity, even in these times, to indulge in her passion for trail running and cycling which she has made a priority each day. Its been important to structure my day to ensure that I don't get stuck in front of my laptop all day"
Watch my chat with Hannah here https://youtu.be/qTcFyFyBTgY
On today's edition of The Aid Station we head to Canberra in Australia to meet Craig Johns, a man who wears many hats and has taken the opportunity that covid-19 has created to pivot his business and achieve some amazing things in a short time.
As a High Performance Leadership Coach, Craig certainly practices what he preaches. Listen for the tips that have helped him launch the first World Endurance Coaching Business Summit which will take place in June.
Hear Craig's insights into the mass participation industry in Australia and his role as CEO of Triathlon ACT. Events look like coming back in Australia next month and the pent up demand is already obvious. "Pools re-opened this week and one pool had over 500 applications for training slots in a few hours."
He believes that one of the keys to making decisions is communication. "Giving people clarity that gives them hope. If you give them hope they will buy into what you are doing. If it's right or wrong doesn't really matter, as long as there is clarity"
Craig has been inspired by the massive number of people out exercising, especially families. "So many new people for our events"
Pick up the many tips from Craig here https://youtu.be/q900bG9zD1g
We start this week's Aid Station in Bangkok, Thailand, where we meet Narongchai Wongthanavimok who has achieved amazing things in both running and business.
Narongchai is an Abbott World Marathon Majors Six Star runner and on the business front has held roles as CFO of Thai Airways and the Dusit Thani Group. His running story is an amazing transition from an unhealthy overweight executive to completing all of the Majors in two years.
He has well and truly caught the bug and was supposed to run Tokyo, Berlin and Chicago this year. When I caught up with him on Friday he had returned home from a gall bladder operation the day before and was itching to get back on the road.
He shared how Covid-19 had made him recogise the need to pause. "I have been very focused on work and have put this operation off for some time." In fact he is taking it a step further and is currently winding down his role with Dusit to take a step back and consider his next chapter.
Listen for his leadership tips including the importance of listening to all stakeholders before making decisions that address both macro and micro considerations. "It's the art of balancing between high-level/overall knowledge and detail/action-oriented knowledge"
Watch my conversation with Narongchai here https://youtu.be/ViryDAZyH6M
We end this week on The Aid Station in a rural village about 50km from Gaborone, Botswana, where we meet Lehlohonolo Makaja.
He shares how, like many in our industry, his journey started out as a volunteer - working on the Diacore Gaborone Marathon. At the age of 27 this one still has a long way to run but has already seen him found Africa Trading Network. It includes promoting Sport and Tourism in his small nation of 2million people.
Lehlohonolo believes the Government has managed the current situation "very well with transparency, good communication and support for businesses." They have just come out of a strict 28 day lock-down.
He talks of the importance of patience "for the first few years we got no sign-ups for our overseas running tours but we kept learning and in 2018 it changed". Patience was part of The Aid Station interview process which stretched over two days with internet challenges.
Sport is in its infancy he continues "we have only ever had one Olympic medalist so we have started this program to identify young talent and give them the opportunity to train outside Botswana".
Watch the inspiring story of Lehlohonolo here https://youtu.be/Lvft_HOtsiU
Today on The Aid Station we head to Boston, USA, to talk to Mary Wittenberg who is I'm sure known to many in the industry for her time as CEO of New York Road Runners. Mary is currently President of EF Education First Pro Cycling Team.
She talks about the tough decisions of being one of the first teams to decide that it wasn't safe to continue racing and the ongoing challenges around putting safety of staff and riders first once racing resumes, which is currently scheduled for 1 August.
"The riders have been extraordinary and the leadership has been incredible often from those that have been the hardest impacted." Listen for the huge contribution of Colombian Rigoberto Uran and Canadian Mike Woods. "Mike broke his femur in Paris Nice in March and couldn't even walk but was getting on his bike and doing recovery rides on Zwift with fans"
"We are lucky to be surrounded by inspiration and one of the things that has inspired me so much has been the huge response of runners to the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery. I hope it's a moment during this time that is in some way unrelated but carries forward in our community".
Watch the interview with Mary here https://youtu.be/_y7i9GrhISc
Today's edition of The Aid Station is a sad case study of a scenario that is likely to be repeated many times across the world as Covid-19 continues to adversely impact the Mass Participation industry.
We travel to Beruit, Lebanon, to meet wissam Terro, Race Director of the Beruit Marathon. Yesterday, shortly before I spoke to him, the Association had closed it's doors and laid off 28 staff as a result of the combined impact of Covid and the ongoing political turmoil in Lebanon.
The event is an inspiration in itself, founded by the amazing May El Khalil who delivered a TED talk "Making Peace is a Marathon" which showcased the impact of the event and has been watched by over 5million people. It grew from 6,000 runners in 2003 to over 48,000.
Wissam gives a humbling insight into daily life in Beruit which includes constant power cuts and ongoing demonstrations against the government.
And despite all the challenges watch his face light up with a massive smile when he talks about his young family including his four month old son Mohamad and the inspiration that messages of support from runners all over the world has provided.
Watch the interview with Wissam here https://youtu.be/aG45EpSh5cg
On today's edition of The Aid Station I talk to one of the most inspiring people I know, Masami Sato, in Singapore. Masami is the Founder of an amazing organisation called B1G1 which has created over 200million giving impacts with its focus on "Business for Good".
Masami shares the inspirational story of how she founded B1G1 and the incredible "Power of Small" - making giving an integral part of our daily lives with small contributions instead of waiting until we can afford to make a bigger contribution.
A theme that punctuates the conversation is that of gratitude. Appreciation for the small things and what we already have which also includes the opportunity that Covid-19 has given for Masami to run more regularly in beautiful Singapore.
One of the key focuses has been staying connected to the over 400 worthy B1G1 causes in 34 countries which included speaking to every one of them to see what help they needed. One of the outcomes was a wonderful story about a charity in Kenya making face-masks.
Listen for Masami's thoughts on leadership which she believes doesn't necessarily need to come from high profile people.
Watch my conversation with Masami here https://youtu.be/tywRavBDMYI
We start off The Aid Station this week in one of my favourite cities, Prague, Czech Republic to meet Paulo Passos Leite.
Paulo shares how it was his mum who "saw the passion in my eyes for a job I was already doing without realizing it" and encouraged him to build a career in the industry which has taken him all over the world from his native Portugal.
Prague is currently home so he can be close to his five year old daughter Justyna. COVID-19 has given him the opportunity to explore ways to create better digital integration into events such as the TRITON World Series and SPORTStalks which his agency blueorange has created.
Paulo shares his four principles for business and be sure to watch until the end to hear the poem he has written "The world has slowed down, yet it’s moving much faster. We are further apart, yet much closer ...... sometimes we need to get sick before we start feeling better"
Watch my talk with Paulo here https://youtu.be/PSmCndXluyI
There are few countries more synonymous with running than Ethiopia so it is with great pleasure that on today's edition of The Aid Station we travel to Addis Ababa to meet Dagmawit Amare.
"Dagi" shares some wonderful insights into the country and it’s running industry including the huge "celebration" around running events and the fact that it’s not unusual to have 500 elites in a race such is the depth of talent.
In her role as Strategic and Innovations Manager at Great Ethiopian Run which is the “biggest running event in Africa with 45,000 runners”, Covid-19 has presented the opportunity to innovate in ways that may just change parts of the industry.
In a country where there is a massive disparity between rich and poor, most entries are done manually with runners coming to registration centres to pay and sign up. So it will probably surprise many that their first ever virtual race in two weeks is only targeting 500 participants.
One of the highlights for Dagi is the Women's Run with 15,000 participants "it has never been easy for women here. They come from all backgrounds - rich, poor, un-eductated, eductated, young and old all wearing the same T shirt, smiling, dancing and shouting. It always inspires me"
Watch the interview with Dagmawit here https://youtu.be/dYJNTvW9Tos
In today's edition of The Aid Station we head to London to talk to Nick Rusling where we learn how The 2.6 Challenge which he is Co-Chair of came about.
The Challenge has now raised over STG10m to help British charities so severely impacted by the postponement and cancellation of events like the London Marathon which raise huge amounts of funds to support them. Nick shares some of the incredible initiatives that have resulted. "One of the things I love about Mass participation is the people that come in last - that's what motivates me". He shares the story of his 73 year old mother who has crippling arthritis . "she can hardly walk and decided to take on a challenge to walk 26 laps of her front path. It got picked up by tens of thousands of people on social media and she decided to keep going for another 26 days".
One of the wonderful by-products is the way that the 2.6 Challenge has brought the Mass Participation industry together in a spirit of collaboration and cooperation.
To watch Nick's interview click here https://youtu.be/qUDKcyxisZQ
In today's edition of The Aid Station we travel to San Luis Potosi in Central Mexico to meet AIMS Vice President, Martha Morales.
Martha shares how, thanks to her dad, she got involved in organising running events almost before she could walk. "My job as a baby was putting safety pins into race packs. I'm so lucky that my job is my passion"
The onset of covid-19 has had a huge impact on her role as AIMS Women's Commission Chair. "Every year we organise events as part of the AIMS Children's Series for our social contribution but we have had to cancel events in Morocco and Peru for now". A number of events as part of their mission to attract more women to running have also been cancelled.
Martha shares that "Its been very hard being under strict lock-down for eight weeks and I've been really struggling to sleep at night". She takes huge inspiration from runners, "the things they do to finish a race, like strength and solidarity, that can be applied to many aspects of daily life."
The lock-down has made her recognise "the things that we take for granted, like giving a hug to our Mum or Dad"
Catch Martha's story here https://youtu.be/Q9q41Cv9iN0
Today's edition of the aid station is so jam-packed with inspiration and golden leadership nuggets that it's impossible to do them justice in a written post.
We travel to a farm in Vermont in the USA to meet Joe De Sena, the CEO and Founder of Spartan.
Watch the show here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mjDzLyq0HM to learn the three lessons Joe got from a Mobster boss in his first job, hear the story of saving the life of the fireman who was about to pull the trigger of a gun pointed at his own head and the challenges of furloughing 75% of his staff across 45 countries and much more.
Today on The Aid Station we travel to Belgrade, Serbia to meet Veroljub Zmijanac.
The industry in Serbia has shown massive growth in the past 10 years from less than 1,000 runners to over 100,000 but, like in most countries, has ground to a standstill since the onset of covid-19.
Veroljub shares "like many event organisers, I'm a 'Control Freak'. One of the most important decisions was to accept that I'm not in control. This is an opportunity to reframe". He shares that "some businesses are going to die but I have made the decision that we will not die - that is an important mindset to have"
His key focus is keeping his team motivated and engaged, exploring ways to help runners and the industry and part of that is recognising that "we are not an event company but and experience business - there are many ways to create experiences that support runners"
Veroljub believes there are opportunities to create "hybrid events" where for example there may be multiple small groups of maybe 100 runners meeting social distancing guidelines participating in an event and linked together virtually.
He is hugely inspired by the massive number of people out running in Belgrade "its a revolution for running"
Watch the interview with Veroljub here https://youtu.be/h1ha5FDKfmg
In today's edition of The Aid Station we travel to Stellenbosch, South Africa, to talk to Agné Du Plessis, Road Running Manager at Stillwater Sports.
Agne shares the challenges of home schooling three young children whilst managing her team remotely and planning multiple, ever-changing scenarios for when events return.
"I really don't know how teachers do it" she says as she recognises the opportunity it has given her to become a better communicator. "Teaching the kids has made me realise that I can communicate more regularly and effectively". It has also taught her not to be so hard on herself "it's ok to spend that extra hour with your kids".
Agne has been hugely inspired by the attitude of the poor people in South Africa. "Unfortunately we have a huge gap between wealth and poverty. When the lock-down happened overnight it was amazing to see the poor people in their tiny houses with huge smiles and so grateful for the little they have".
Her challenge to everyone "Redeem this time with loved ones - it's a gift which probably won't happen again in our lifetime." Her commitment "to connect with someone every day".
Watch the interview here https://youtu.be/VZ7mmKPz_LU
Today on The Aid Station I have the privilege of meeting Azran Osman-Rani, one of Asias' most sought after speakers, an inspirational business leader and a passionate triathlete. The show is jam-packed with valuable personal and business tips.
I caught up with Azran from Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday on the day of his first outdoor run in over six weeks. He shared that "the lock-down here is pretty serious, we have police and military on the streets and someone even got arrested for running within their gated community compound".
Among his weekly rituals are the importance of allocating "at least an hour with my team to reflect on how things went and what needs to be adjusted." The key is to ensure that everyone is engaged "in a virtual world it is important to have a process that ensures the conversation is not dominated by a few and that each team member is drawn into the conversation"
Azran also allocates time "to imagine opportunities beyond COVID-19 and not just be caught up in a tactical survival focus"
He believes being willing to ask for help and surrounding yourself with people who can support you is critical.
Watch the interview with Azran here https://youtu.be/a0R8XmHxfeQ
Today on The Aid Station we meet Chi Nguyen, in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.
Chi shares the remarkable story of the rising star of her running career that has coincided with massive growth of the industry in Vietnam over the past decade. It started for her about nine years ago as a trail runner and has quickly evolved into major city marathons. She is already half way to her dream of becoming the first Vietnamese woman to achieve Abbot World Marathon Majors six star status with finishes in New York, Boston and Berlin already alongside her name.
COVID-19 postponed her Tokyo run earlier this year and she is currently in training for back-to-back weekends in London and Chicago in October.
Off the road Chi has her hands full as Managing Director of Havas Vietnam which involves looking after "a team of people that are mostly half my age" Supporting them and retaining talent is one of her key focuses right now and that involves giving "I'm a giver in life and in work - paying forward is really important to me" she says
Watch my chat with Chi here https://youtu.be/0PM7CY73rtM
On The Aid Station today we meet AIMS President, Paco Borao In Valencia, Spain, and hear some amazing and inspiring insights from a man who has overcome adversity and contributed so much to running globally.
When we spoke he had already been in lock-down for over six weeks with his wife Victoria and has realised that "I'm much more patient than I thought".
Paco talks about the adversity of the GFC and colon cancer which gave him the opportunity to shift from a corporate role with IBM to his life in running which apart from the AIMS Presidency includes being the Race Director of Valencia Marathon and the opportunity to have "a job which is my passion"
Paco shares the discussions he had at IBM way back in the 90's about "teleworking" and how "sometimes we need to be really pushed to embrace innovation" as COVID-19 has now forced the virtual world into our lives.
He believes that "life is a survival exercise and one of the most important things is making friends. If you have friends you can always ask for help"
Watch the interview with Paco here https://youtu.be/-wNSBURFur8
In today's edition of The Aid Station, we travel to Geelong, not far from Melbourne in Australia to meet Shannan Gove, Co-Founder and Director of Rosterfy.
Shannan's story probably mirrors that of many in the Mass Participation industry - starting out as a volunteer and going on to build a career positively impacting the lives of millions.
He shares the journey which started by "getting a handful of uni students to volunteer on the Melbourne Marathon" and has turned into a global business that that helps the likes of Spartan, Super Bowl and London Marathon recruit train and deploy huge volunteer workforces.
His positive attitude and ability to see the opportunities in these times shines through at every stage. One of his key tips is "don't be too harsh on yourself, do the best you can but enjoy the time with your family or take time for yourself" In his case that includes spending time with his seven month old daughter Evie.
One of his top priorities is being in regular contact with and supporting his staff and clients. "People remember the way you make them feel when things are tough - not just in the good times".
Watch the interview with Shannan here https://youtu.be/aRKrWFIF9Ks
On today's Aid Station we travel to Biarritz in France to meet Pierre Duvelleroy, the founder of njuko, one of the industry's leading online registration platforms.
Pierre recalls the day the realisation of the likely impact of Covid-19 hit him. His company provides registration for over 4,000 events a year which means about 15,000 registrations per day - in the space of 48hours it plummeted to 150.
One of his key focuses is ensuring the well-being of his team spread across Europe and Singapore. His daily routine includes time on a call with a different staff member to check-in and have a "non work" chat.
One of his realisations has been "many of us strive for balance, for me that is surfing and the outdoors but all of a sudden I have had to adapt". For Pierre that has been the opportunity to experience new things through reading, in particular a focus on being zen "learning to sleep when I'm tired and eat when I'm hungry, rather than the busy routine of a typical work day."
He sees many positives coming out of the situation and has been inspired by the response of sections of the participant community donating their entry fees to smaller organisers to help them survive. "we are part of an amazing community.
Watch the interview with Pierre here https://youtu.be/UxMrk_VhGkA
On today's edition of The Aid Station we talk a lot about "meaning" when we travel to Rio de Janeiro to meet Pedro Rego Monteiro, CEO of Effect Sport.
Pedro believes that after COVID-19 sport will need more meaning "not just sport for sport - consumers, companies, participants will demand more meaning". It's something that is already baked into the DNA of Effect Sport which he founded. The company delivers a portfolio of events including the King & Queen of the Sea with over 20,000 participants.
He has inspirational role models in his 80 year old Mum and Dad. When it comes to meaning his Mum is up there with the best. Her remarkable journey started out with barely enough food in the Favellas to becoming the leading paediatric cardiologist in Brazil with her own foundation and building of a 100 bed children's hospital. A passionate, rebellious woman who recently almost got arrested for her determination to walk on the beach. There is little doubt of Pedro's passion to make a similar impact on people's lives through sport.
But right now it’s about the simple things like delivering Easter eggs to the homes of every staff member during lockdown, and spending time with his wife and 3 year old son.
Watch the show here https://youtu.be/o9piOE_lXhU
If today's edition of The Aid Station doesn't inspire you I'm not sure what will.
We travel to Athens, Greece, to meet marathon legend and cancer survivor Maria Polyzou, an inspiration with a list of achievements so long that it’s hard to know where to start.
Maria has just completed 10 months of chemo and radiotherapy for breast cancer during which time she continued to run each day to add to her career total of over 280,000km.
It's not hard to see why her motto of "Nothing is Impossible" has seen her achieve an array of milestones: Atlanta Olympian, Greek marathon record holder, National Champion for 20 years, coached 5,000 marathon runners, the Pheidippides Feat (13 consecutive marathons in 7 days) Ambassador of Marathon, author and much more.
Her two key tips in these times "focus on what we have" and "always have a dream and a goal"
Watch Maria's incredible story here https://youtu.be/9KOzF_bfcmk
On today's edition of The Aid Station we meet celebrity photographer Russel Wong Wong in Singapore.
Russel shares how he became a photographer almost by accident after his father gave him a camera as a 16 year old and sent him away to the University of Oregon, where he was a Finance major. His passion for sport saw him shooting local Nike athletes and his first break came when one of his photos of Sebastion Coe was used for the cover of Track & Field News.
From there his journey has seen him play himself in Crazy Rich Asians and shooting some of the biggest global stars in fashion, music, movies and sport albeit that many of his followers do not realise his passion for the industry that gave him his start.
Russel talks about how these times have given him the opportunity to go through his back catalogue and release some of his amazing unseen sports photos. He reflects on how lucky he is to have a job that is his passion and highlights the current chance to let the mind wander and be creative "our bodies may be locked down but our minds are free"
Watch Russel's interview here https://youtu.be/id4SuYmp-b0
We start The Aid Station this week in New England in the USA meeting Lorna Campbell who actually hails from a small town in Scotland.
Lorna, like so many in our industry, is fortunate in her role as Head of Communications for the Abbott World Marathon Majors (AbbottWMM) to mix her passion for running with her job. This should have been a busy few months of travel including Tokyo, Boston and London Marathons as well as the opportunity to work on her fourth Olympics but staying at home has presented some exciting opportunities.
Keeping in a routine of physical exercise and yoga for mindfulness has been important as Lorna focuses on the daily task of communicating with runners who follow the AbbottWMM. "Where we would usually be sharing a lot of content profiling the elite athletes it's now more user generated content about everyday runners, many of them doing amazing things to help raise money." Listen for her communications tip on getting the balance right.
Lorna is also in the midst of being trained as a counselor for an organisation called Crisis Text Line. "It has made me think about the importance of every word I write" she said.
Listen to my chat with Lorna here https://youtu.be/PBHElUsmhr8
On today's edition of The Aid Station we meet Andrea Trabuio, Head of Mass Events, RCS Sports & Events in Italy.
We travel to a small village near Milan and hear of how every day routine is key for Andrea during these times. Walking his two dogs in the morning, breakfast with his wife, who comes from Zimbabwe, and connecting virtually with his team each day as well as his love of cooking.
Andrea comments that "it seems we have more time, but it’s not true because the days seem to finish very early"
He shares the challenge of wresting with the unknowns of the re-scheduling some of Italy's and indeed the world's most iconic events such as the Giro d' Italia and Milan Marathon as well as a number of events in the Middle East.
Andrea says he has no fear for the future "this is a time to go deep inside and leave your mind to go where it wants, everything will be alright" He also feels it is important to appreciate the meaning of the small things.
Watch Andrea here https://youtu.be/Vas41IAmiSw
Today we travel to Hong Kong for The Aid Station in an episode that is certain to inspire and probably bring a tear to many eyes.
We will meet Jeanette Wang who is there with her six month old son Malte whilst her five year old daughter Marla is locked down with her husband, Matthias, in Singapore.
Jeanette, who has represented Singapore at triathlon and netball, competed in the IRONMAN World Championships at Kona and the pinnacle of trail running, Ultra Trail Mont Blanc talks about how her athlete mindset has helped her get through the challenges of being apart. She shares the difficulty of trying to focus when her mind is on her family and how she has turned to baking as one of her outlets.
Make sure you watch until the end when Jeanette shares her seven keys to resilience which have served her so well in her life already filled with so many inspiring achievements.
You can watch this week's Aid station here https://youtu.be/7mrq8fjugbE
n today's edition of The Aid Station we travel to Mumbai, India to meet Anil Singh the MD of Procam International who organise some of India’s biggest running events.
Anil has been totally locked down for over four weeks with one exception - sneaking out at 4am one night to take pampers and milk to a friend with a new born baby. "I'm a hugely gregarious person and if you had told me that I would be locked down for a month I probably would have shot myself, but here is the beautiful thing ...."
He goes on to talk about the inspiration that the frontline workers in India give him and the massive role that Mass Participation events will play post COVID-19. "I believe there will be a closer relationship between Cities and Citizens and that our events will be a beacon of society"
Anil's passion screams at you as he talks about the industry coming back stronger, more meaningful and with a bigger purpose as it helps create more cohesiveness, love, bonding and a spirit of giving.
Today's guest on "The Aid Station" is Andrew Messick, CEO at IRONMAN Group coming to us from Tampa, Florida.
Andrew gives a behind the scenes look at the operational complexities of having to postpone 97 races into an already packed Q3/Q4 calendar. He talks about the importance of "over communication" to make it happen, especially with staff and a key focus on supporting younger staff during such trying times.
He also highlights the value that our industry plays in giving people a goal and focus with so many athletes saying things like "I just want an anchor to focus on" which has also been reflected in the huge participation levels in the newly launched VR Club.
Andrew shares his belief that the endurance industry mindset is ideally positioned to "just keep going" through these challenging times "it's like being in the last half of the marathon - keep putting one foot in front of another .."
We travel to Stockholm, Sweden to meet Charlotte Melchert, CEO of World's Marathons.
Life in Sweden is different to most parts of the world as there has been no compulsory lock-down. Shops and restaurants are still open but business challenges are still huge.
Charlotte gives an intriguing insight into running a team of 18 people working remotely across 12 countries and the challenges faced by a business that relies almost solely on people traveling internationally to events. One of the key take-aways is the importance of helping clients solve their problems.
A mother of two young children (our interview was rescheduled due to her teething 5 month old daughter) Charlotte believes that one of the big opportunities of COVID-19 is for those who may not be happy in the corporate world to become entrepreneurs more aligned to their purpose - something she did three years ago.
The production of today's edition of "The Aid Station" with Phil Liggett, The Voice of Cycling, was an endurance event in itself which took almost a week to complete due to him being stranded in a remote game reserve in South Africa with limited connectivity.
In this entertaining edition Phil shares the parallels of the challenges he experienced last year following the death of his dear friend and co-commentator for 33 years, Paul Sherwen and the impact of COVID-19 on his life in 2020.
He talks candidly about the impact on the cycling calendar. He believes "it will never be the same" and questions how many of the Pro teams will be able to survive if there is an extended lock-down. He also wonders how the pro riders will be able to be fit enough to ride the Tour de France if it is able to go ahead in August.
In this edition of "The Aid Station" we travel to Manila to meet Princess Galura, GM of Sunrise Events, the dynamo behind the vision of Fred Uytengsu to bring IRONMAN to the Philippines.
Sunrise, now part of The IRONMAN Group has a portfolio of events showcasing the stunning beauty of the Philippines and regularly voted byathletes as some of the best on the circuit.
Princess has not been able to leave her home which she shares with her husband, Miko and 17 dogs for 22 days and is still in lock-down for at aleast another 22 days.
She talks about the realisation that "I have enough" as well as discovering the power of prayer to get her through the dark times.
Princess see's the potential for many post COVID-19 positives such as the hope that the acceptance of remote working will help ease Manila's notorious traffic jams and pollution.
For this edition of The Aid Station we travel to Mexico to meet Joel Espinoza Jimenez, CEO of Altec Experiences Deportivas.
I have been mentoring Joel for the past year as part of my Mass Participation Masterclass and in our monthly call just over a month ago he was sharing a bunch of wins and exciting plans for his small and growing business - how things have changed.
Joel shares the challenges of life in Mexico right now with a massive currency devaluation and no government support for small business. He talks about how he has been able to pivot part of the company by providing services to another industry sector. What skills and capabilities do you have in your business that may be of value to another sector that is flourishing in these times?
Clara talks about her tough decision of whether to return to her family in Spain or stay in her home in an alpine Swiss Village from where she does fantastic work as Fundraising Manager for GivenGain Foundation.
Listen out for the part where she shares her reaction to discovering that one of her neighbours, who she had been sharing a lift with, had tested positive to COVID-19 - pure gold and a great lesson for us all. Clara also shares some of the things she has learnt about herself in lock-down and some of her challenges which I'm sure will resonate with many.
Taylor Host, Co-Founder of Miro AI. Taylor is currently holed up in a log cabin somewhere between Chicago and Detroit while his fiance, Jackie is in Hong Kong and he manages his team of nine people spread across five countries.
He shares some of the challenges of the added impact of COVID-19 off the back of months of political demonstrations in Hong Kong which resulted in him moving his business to the USA.
Like many businesses, one of his key challenges right now is cash flow and one of the tips he shared was not being scared to pick up the phone to big suppliers, which in his case include Amazon, to re-negotiate agreements on more favourable terms.