Complete Exhibitions never shy away from a challenge, so when they took on the task of branding the 50th Lowveld Croc Canoe Marathon along the route on behalf of Sasol in late September, they relished the opportunity. Sasol were title sponsor for first time for this 50th anniversary event which aligned to their strategy in promoting conservation and creating an understanding of responsible water management.

Day one began at Gauging Weir, Mpumalanga, and Complete Exhibitions rose early to be on site by five am to begin the task of dressing the start. Ensuring firstly that directional signage from around 45km away in Nelspruit to the starting point was in place, they then took on the unusual build site to ensure that the title sponsor had pride of place among the participants and spectators. With team one completing the final touches, team two then made their way 33km downriver to the day one finish at Weltevreden Bridge. Following a meandering river provided its own gruelling natural obstacles, but racing against time, the team dived right in to tackle the territory. Erecting signage along the route banks, Complete Exhibitions ensured not only that the branding was there, but strategically placed for the best promotional results.

The next 23 kilometres on day two started in a similar fashion but on a brand new course, so lessons learned in the previous 24 hours still required a certain level of adaptation to gain the desired result. From Weltevreden Bridge to Montrose falls, canoeists paddled swiftly passing teardrops, A-frames and PVC branding on both side of the Crocodile river, deliberately positioned by the Complete Exhibitions team, who by now had come to terms with the rough and at times, uncooperative terrain.

The race organisers were not used to seeing this extent of branding on the route and were delighted with the resulting exposure. New elements, such as exhibition stands at the start and finish of the race, provided for a professional welcome to all participants and guests.

Says Gabor Babinszky, team leader from Complete Exhibitions, Detailed planning for this event was critical to gain the desired outcome. Ensuring that all equipment and tools were on hand as we were miles from anywhere and on the strictest timeline, as well as planning team rotation and vehicle drop offs meant we could spend more time focussed on the smaller details. Our timing was critical as the 138 canoeists paddled down route faster than cars could drive alongside, so ensuring that the finish was appropriately set-up before they arrived was a real testament of our planning and capacity.

The winding route was not their only concern however. Having learned that the crocodiles and hippos had needed to be coaxed from the river in the weeks leading up to the event, as well as some rain on day two breaking the otherwise sweltering heat, the team became veritable Cyclops with one eye on the time, another on the weather and the third on the water watching for any beast of nature that may not have taken the bait.

Babinszky concludes, Working on the Sasol Lowveld Croc Canoe Marathon was a wonderful experience. Working alongside this awesome river bank scenery and building around Mother Nature, calling to team mates across the river, all added to this new working environment and excitement for the task at hand.

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