Melanie Veness: PCB CEO
For many years we had an inter-company relay in Pietermaritzburg that was held in Alexandra Park. It was great fun, because it wasn’t a serious race, and consequently almost everyone ran it. I must just point out that I use the term “ran” in the broadest possible context here.
A couple of weeks before the “big event”, you would see teams taking to the streets in a desperate attempt to “up” their fitness levels, so that they could complete the 5 Kilometres in the allocated time limit. It was all about us – the fish and chips wannabe runners. Team t-shirts were procured, people were chivvied and encouraged during practice and on the day.
Huffing and puffing, team members would give it their all and then collapse, with relief, at their corporate tent, crack open a beer and breathe in the smell of sizzling braai meat that was being prepared by the non-runners (generally the husbands or wives of the team members).
Then someone introduced prize money, and in time, interest waned and the frivolity came to a rather sad end, mostly, I think, because it became less about networking and more about winning.
Of course people began to miss the event and I fielded numerous calls from enthusiastic people strongly suggesting that we bring back the race. I agreed that we should bring back the networking and frivolity, but without the winning.
Much thought went into how we could put together a team event that was not a serious running event, but that incorporated an element of fun networking and that would build inter-company relationships as well as enhance team morale, and five years ago ‘Maritzburg’s zaniest event of the year was born – the O.T.T. PCB Enterprise Relay.
Members were invited to toss their tablets, shed their stilettos, don their whacky-wear and gather their gang, and they did just that with great enthusiasm. Entries have poured in for the “not-at-all-serious” corporate relay, and I’m pleased to report that the event has grown in popularity as far as entrants and attendance are concerned. We had over a 100 teams of 6 and more than 1000 people on site this year, braaing and socialising in the main arena at the Royal Showgrounds. Participants are encouraged to bring their children and plenty of kiddies joined in the fun. Since the event is most definitely not about winning, the fabulous prizes were awarded by lucky draw.
The O.T.T PCB Enterprise Relay is certainly the most fun you can have while “working”, but you know, it is so much more than that too.
I stood back on Friday evening and grinned like a Cheshire cat at what I saw in front of me. After the prize giving, while the braai fires were sizzling in the background, people danced in the middle. People of all sizes – children, teens and adults, people of all races and religions, all sexual orientations, people from the government sector as well as the private sector. They were all having a wonderful time mixing and laughing and playing. Sometimes when you stare too long at the ugly political under-belly and listen to the divisive rhetoric commonplace today, you forget just how wonderful the ordinary people of our country are and how much progress has been made in our new South Africa. This is the South Africa that was fought so hard for, this is my South Africa – let’s have more of these kinds of events?