Template: Tough Mother

This is a template for an adventurous fundraising event aimed at mums. As with all event templates on this blog, feel free to use or adapt it as you please.

Overview

A fundraising challenge, in which four teams of five Muslim women are sponsored to complete an arduous but fun obstacle course challenge. It is a ladies-only event, led by female instructors, aimed particularly at mums from the local community.

Participants can expect to trek over a variety of terrain, including hills, riverbeds and forest, as well as climb, crawl, wade and jump their way through numerous obstacles.

The challenge is designed to push participants to their limits, encourage positive team work and get their adrenalin pumping. It is open to women of all fitness levels: no experience is necessary, but a sense of adventure and determination is crucial. Continue reading “Template: Tough Mother”

Why you need to race in a mud run (and how to survive it)

A Busy Mom's Guide to Being Awesome-ish

While I definitely consider myself to be fairly fit, I am by no means a runner. I have always loved the idea of running, so back about 6 years ago, after I had my first child, I took up jogging. It made sense, given that it is tough to find activities you can do to stay fit with your kids, and throwing them into a jogging stroller is the lowest hanging fruit (see my blog on 8 Ways to Workout with Your Kids for more ideas). However, it was more difficult than it seemed. It took me quite a while to build up to my goal, which was 5k.

I set myself a target, which was to run in my first race. I settled on the Toronto Waterfront Marathon 5k. Seemed like a great idea, but in reality, didn’t work out to be that fun. It was like the perfect…

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Manal Rostom

The Egyptian Hijabi Model Shattering What it Means to be a Muslim, Arab Girl

At 37-years-old, Manal Rostom has climbed mountains, can speak four languages, and became a figure for fighting stereotypes about women in hijab. Yet, she still has to deal with those who look at her as a veiled woman with an empty head. Rostom speaks to Egyptian Streets about her adventures, moments of pride, goals, and fears.

 

Template: Eid Mud Run

This is a template for sisters-only fundraising event, based around a mud run challenge. As with all event templates on this blog, feel free to use or adapt it as you please.

What is it?

This challenge could be summarised as: Superhero Run meets Eid Party meets Tough Mudder. It is a sisters-only event in which participants are sponsored to take on and complete one of two obstacle course challenges, to raise funds for charity. Continue reading “Template: Eid Mud Run”

Template: Joining Letter

When you’re organising a challenge, participants always really appreciate clear guidance and information about the event. I suggest putting together a joining letter or email along the lines of the one below. Your supporters will thank you for it! Continue reading “Template: Joining Letter”

Common questions about mud runs and OCR

Are Mud Runs a thing? I’ve never heard of them!

Yes, they’re definitely a thing! Sometimes called obstacle course races or trail runs, mud runs are running events that will push you to your limits. Some challenges are just a lot of fun; others are for the serious fitness fanatic. Some challenges include obstacles, while others just include lots of mud. There are many such events around the country to choose from, almost all year round.

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Are Mud Run Challenges really popular? Seriously?

They seem to be. Hundreds of challenge events take place in the UK each year, with thousands of men, women and children taking part. In the US, over a million people take part in them each year. They’re also popular in Malaysia, India, Australia, South Africa and Canada.

I need inspiration. Where do I start?

Our blog is as good a place to start as any other: we always try to feature upcoming charity challenges. If that doesn’t give you enough inspiration, check out our Challenges page.

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Why should I even think about taking part?

For a start, they’re great fun. But they’re also challenging, so it’s a good way to attract sponsor pledges and support a charity. Your friends and colleagues will be seriously impressed!

Do I need to be fit?

It largely depends which Challenge event you enter. The Shropshire Mud Run, for example, is suitable for people of all abilities and is ideal for beginners (people with no previous experience of mud runs). Manchester’s Born Survivor, on the other hand, is aimed at the super-fit and super-tough. If you don’t consider yourself very fit, it would be best to choose an entry-level event. Whatever the case it would certainly help if you’re at least moderately fit.

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How should I train?

You could meet with friends to run or jog together a few times a week. Or consider following the well-known Couch to 5K training programme, for which numerous smartphone Apps exist. Finally, follow the Muslim Runner blog for more great tips.

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Will it be like Cross Country at school? I hated that!

Not if your choose a run billed as a fun event! Nobody’s going to yell at you if you slow down to a walk. There will be no teachers to jump out on you telling you not to talk, or laugh, or smile.

Do I have to run the course? Can’t I walk?

You could. But you might get left behind.

What kind of kit do I need?

Long trousers (running leggings or tracksuit bottoms), running top, synthetic socks and tightly laced trainers. For ladies, a good sports bra is essential.

What kind of footwear should I have?

Wear tightly laced trainers. Don’t go fancy dress on your footwear: heels or pumps are out of the question. Running socks are a good idea.

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Do I have to run as part of a team?

No, but it would be much more fun. Team mates will give you moral and physical support, and help you get through it.

If you are running as a team, remember to apply the team discount code when you book your place where applicable.

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I don’t have any friends. Can I still take part?

You can take part individually if you want to, but why not consider running with family members, work colleagues, neighbours or your arch nemesis?

I want to run with my brothers. Is that okay?

That’s an excellent idea. And it’s a great way to build relationships.

Can I run as a wife and husband team?

Absolutely, we actively encourage it. Training and taking part together is a wonderful way to grow closer and more become supportive of each other. Go for it!

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My kids would love to take part. How old do they have to be?

In many cases 16 – 17 years olds can take part with parental permission, but you’ have to be present. Better still, run altogether as a family and enjoy some quality bonding time!

Alternatively, there are a number of events for younger kids, such as the Shropshire Mini Mud RunYeo Valley RockStars Kids and Spartan Junior.

I don’t like mud. Can I avoid it?

Um, not really. We suggest you just dive in.

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I’d love to take part, but don’t live in the UK!

Challenges like these are taking place all over the world, in the US, Canada, Malaysia, India, Australia… the list goes on. Find an event near you and follow the same 5 steps to fundraising success. Don’t fret! You can make a difference wherever you are in the world.

What do I get out of taking part?

If you get people to sponsor you, you’ll get the reward for your charitable acts. You’ll have the sense of satisfaction of completing the course. You’ll have incredible fun. You’ll get some fresh air.

I want to take part, but my friends will think I’ve lost it.

You may be surprised. Take a lead and invite them to join you.

3 Reasons Why an OCR is a Great New Year Resolution 

Loved this post on why taking on an Obstacle Course Race is a great New Year Resolution. Head on over to read three great reasons to get started on the road to adventure.

Ryan Runs in Mud

2016 is finally here, and we all know what that means: time to make those resolutions!

Of course, the running gag of resolutions is that you almost feel like you’re making the same one year after year after year. That gets you stuck in this seemingly never-ending rut. You may think there is no chance of achieving your resolution. But that’s not true! You’re probably just approaching it wrong. So, with that in mind, here are 3 reasons why running for an OCR is a great resolution.

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The 2015 review: a year of challenges

Muslims have had a great year taking on mud runs, obstacle course races and other challenges in an effort to raise vital funds for all kinds of good causes. Here are some of the stories we covered; no doubt but a drop in the ocean of challenges conquered in 2015:

  • In March, several students from Hutchesons’ Grammar School in Glasgow participated in the Muddy Trials mud run, raising money for two worthwhile causes.
  • In May, Rajeh Shaikh and Sadia Sajid took part in Spartan Race Sprint to raise funds for Computer Aid International. Muslim blogger Ayanna Kai also took on the 5K Mudderella Run with her mother in the United States.
  • In July, Hussain Master from Preston took on Tough Mudder for the second time to raise funds for local charity, A Day of Sunshine.
  • In August, a team of research staff from Leeds took part in the Pretty Muddy fun run to raise funds for Cancer Research, while Fatima Gouveia from Winchester took on Tough Mudder to raise funds for Muscular Dystrophy UK.
  • In September, a group of Islamic Help supporters from Bedford took part in Tough Mudder to raise funds for relief work in the Central African Republic. Rihela Nazir and family, meanwhile, took on the Midlands Major Series to raise funds for the dementia charity, BUDS.
  • In October, six volunteers including our very own Kanza Ahmed and Haroon Mota completed the Great Birmingham Run with Islamic Relief to raise funds for Gaza. Over in the United States, dozens of Muslim women took part in the ladies-only fun run, WOW Run 2015.
  • In November, Sajedah Patel took part in a 5K mud run to raise funds for Beating Bowel Cancer.
  • In December, hundreds of people participated in Islamic Relief’s Survival Camp to raise funds to support refugees.

It seems 2015 was also the year that Muslim Charities decided to get in on the act and launch their own mud run / obstacle course race challenges.

  • In March, Muslim Hands Scotland created a challenge event called Crawl of Duty, which saw both brothers and sisters take on a muddy assault course at Craufurdland Castle in East Ayshire.
  • In April and again in September, Orphans in Need unleashed a perfectly muddy off-road obstacle course race called Insane Terrain in Cambridgeshire.
  • In August, Islamic Relief unveiled their Mud Run Challenge, with separate events for men and women over a single weekend in Surrey.

We can’t wait to see what 2016 has in store for us. Hopefully much more of the same. Bring it on!

London shining bright

The honorable and legendary Bear Grylls has just tweeted this great status from a recent BG Survival Race

If that doesn’t motivate you, nothing will.

Getting the most out of your Mud Run

This is a guest post by Yatie Nadzli , sharing 20 helpful tips on getting the most out of your Mud Run. Earlier this year, Yatie took part in the Viper Challenge, Asia’s biggest obstacle course event.

1. Form a team of fabulous teammates and prepare to have fun!

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2. Ensure you get the nutrition you need before, during and after your Mud Run challenge. Eat healthy, nutritious foods and stay hydrated. Don’t skip breakfast.

3. Do consistent strength and cardio training in the run up to your challenge. Try to work up to running 5km without interruption. Mud Runs are a test of endurance, not a walk in the park. Be prepared.

4. Work out upper body. This is important if you’re taking part in a Mud Run with lots of obstacles. They’re not applicable to all runs, but are increasingly common.

5.  Teamwork is everything in a Mud Run challenge. Help each other in your team and even people not in your team. Somebody else might return the favour when you need help later on!

6. Take a lot of photos whenever you can because this might be your one and only Mud Run challenge.

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7. Have a good rest the night before the challenge and don’t forget carb- loading!

8. Wear shoes that fit.  Avoid ill-fitting shoes, as Mud Runs involve a lot of mud and water. Poorly fitting shoes will easily slip off. I recommend rubber shoes or hiking shoes that grip. Don’t wear shoes you’re particularly attached to as they’re going to get covered in mud!

9. Wear long sleeves or a thin inner layer, as there are often obstacles which require you to crawl on the ground.

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10. I strongly encourage you to wear gloves as many challenges feature hard, rough surfaces.

11. Bring protein/energy bars, a banana or high protein foods you can easily eat during the challenge. Seriously, we need lots of energy to get across the finish line.

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12. Wear long trousers with a reasonable thickness or wear good leggings underneath, as sometimes trousers get torn or perforated,  especially in the nether regions! Ouch!!

13. Travel light. Don’t carry water as there are usually waters stations along the way. Carry protein bars and small waterproof camera. Leave valuables such as mobile phones behind or locked in your car.

14. Leave nobody behind. Remember the Mud Run challenge is not a race: you just have to finish it together. If someone in your team is struggling, walk with them; there’s nothing to rush for.

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15. Do not drink so much water before the challenge that you’re uncomfortable and need the the toilet. It may be okay if you’re a man, but going toilet in the overgrowth is not much fun. Just drink what you need and can retain along the way.

16. First aid is always available, but carrying a spray for muscle cramp and plasters can be handy in case of injury in the woods.

17.  Help and motivate each other along the way. Honestly I don’t think I could finish a Mud Run challenge without support from my team mates. That’s why my number one rule is to find fabulous team mates! Yeahhh!!

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18. Go into it with 100% mindset to take on all the challenges and prepare to have loads of fun.

19. Enjoy the moment and be happy. Commit to do the best for every obstacle; it will give you true satisfaction.

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20. Don’t give up! You are so much stronger than you know!

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From D- to A+: One Running Girl’s Journey

This is a guest post by Kanza…small reflections on her big journey from mattress to marathon!

“I can’t run…you’re so committed and good at it and I can barely walk a kilometer without wanting to collapse…”

These were the words uttered by a friend when I asked her to consider joining me in a 5k race for fun awhile back. At the time we both chuckled and then the conversation moved on…but later that night I sat down and reflected on her words and suddenly the enormity of my own running journey hit me.

I am Kanza and I have run fifteen 10k races, have two 8.5mile race medals and am currently training for my very first half marathon in Birmingham this October in which I will be raising money for Islamic Relief’s #Running4Gaza campaign Inshallah. I also ran over 15km last night…for fun…and will soon be training with the Birchfield Harriers in Birmingham (the same team that Olympic gold medalist, Denise Lewis trained with).

But wait!! Before you decide to stop reading…let me tell you more about the real me….

I am also the same Kanza, the girl whose school report for PE, year on year, recorded an A- for effort but a D+ for physical skill. In a nutshell I was keen on sports and running but the teachers also knew I was completely and utterly rubbish! Yes I was that girl who wanted to be the committed cross country runner but couldn’t walk a kilometer without wanting to collapse. I was the kid that no one wanted on their team and would inevitably be the last person to be picked for a team simply because the reluctant team captain had no choice! I was the teen, with knock knees who would almost always end up falling over whilst trying to run because her knees were turned inward and would bash against each other and trip her up when attempting to run.

But now fast forward to 15 years later and here I am running for fun, playing sport for fun and somehow along the way I became good at it…at an age where sports people are often considered past their prime!

So how on earth did that happen?

The purpose of this post wasn’t to boast but to share my journey from my mattress to marathon. I hope that my journey encourages others. Many girls out there will probably identify to some extent with the second description of me, but very few will be able to imagine that they too can become the sporty version. But I promise you that Inshallah you can…and here’s just a few tips to get you started:

1. Move your mind

Nope that is not a typo…the biggest hurdle people think they have to overcome when wanting to start running is often considered to be the body but actually the real obstacle is your mind. The little voice that says “No not today it’s cold” or “Maybe I can run tomorrow” – (yes you know which voice I am talking about !) Well that voice needs to be silenced! The best way to do it is to make a firm intention to go out and do that run (even it if just 100 metres or just one lap round your back garden). Stick it in your diary as an appointment and make sure you keep it! Stick post-it notes on the mirror to remind you, alerts on your phone, put your running trainers somewhere visible, etc. All these (not so) subtle cues within your environment will set your mind in gear and prepare it for the physical challenge.

2. Accept you will find it really hard at first

The first time you attempt to run you will probably have grand visions of it feeling easy…but I will be honest with you…it won’t be…you will wobble, you will feel horribly out of breath very quickly, and you will wonder how on earth does a brother like Mo Farah make it look so darn easy? But hey, that’s ok! The first time I tried to run, I honestly barely managed a kilometer before I was sick in the park (classy I know!) But you know what? Even if you only manage 100 metres…that’s more than the person still lying on their mattress! And that my friend…is a small achievement to give you a boost! Which leads me nicely to my next tip…

3. Don’t give up

Yes those first few runs will be hard and you will wonder why on earth you’re putting yourself through it, but have patience and persevere – I promise it gets better! In my own personal experience it took 2 months of running twice a week (Saturday and Sunday) before I managed to see the benefits…my 100 metre runs became 5kms, I had more energy, felt healthier and weirdly, I felt strange if I didn’t go out for a run…we are creatures of habit…as long as we repeat the task a few times, our mind and body expect us to continue. Even if you only run once a week for a couple of hundred metres – keep it up – it is better than nothing!

4. Find a buddy

Running is always easier if you have someone to keep you company…that may be a friend who runs along with you or maybe the dulcet tones of Maher Zain on your ipod as you plod! If none of your friends want to run, then consider joining the park runs or the Great Run training runs in your local park (the latter have female only running groups too which cater for all running speeds). Both of these are free to join and it’s a great opportunity to make new friends and get fit!

5. Chart your progress

Nowadays we all tend to have smart phones…and the great thing is you can use them to help you become fit. There are plenty of running apps (MapMyRun, Nike+Running, Strava etc) you can download to log your progress. Or simply keep a note in your diary of your running achievement…how far you ran, where you ran, how you felt etc. If you are trying to lose weight then make a note of your weight and body size before you start running and chart your monthly progress…charting your progress will be a key step to keeping you motivated and to keep you going.

If like me you’re at a D- in sport…remember it doesn’t have to be that way foreveryou can change it! So there we have it…my first five tips to get you off your mattress and running a marathon (well maybe at least a few metres anyhow!) Practice makes perfect Inshallah! 

Feel free to leave comments about your progress – I would love to know how you all get on! If there are any particular running queries or theories you want to chat about – drop me a message and Inshallah I can try and blog about it for you!

But for now I pray everyone out there has a safe and beautiful running journey of their own – Ameen

Wasalaam

Kanza

Author’s Background

Away from running, in her day job Kanza is a Public Health Specialty Registrar and in her spare time is the Head of Sports and Well-being for the Living Islam Festival 2016. Her #Running4Gaza fundraising page is here: https://birminghamhalfmarathon2015.everydayhero.com/uk/kanza

Let’s eat cake

Like many people, we’ve looked on at Islamic Relief’s Cakes4Syria campaign with a mixture of awe and humility. Twice a week throughout the month of Ramadan, hundreds of volunteers have given up their own time to deliver over 15,000 delicious cakes nationwide. Yesterday alone they delivered 6000 of them in anticipation of a chocolaty Eid. Most of us have forgotten the heat wave of the first half of Ramadan; not so these valiant volunteers.

The Cake Campaign — the brainchild of enthusiastic Islamic Relief volunteer, Abdul Basit Ali — began in Bradford two years ago during the holy month of Ramadan. The formula is simple: famished folk order a tasty chocolate fudge cake for £10 and £5 of the proceeds are donated to Islamic Relief. It’s a win-win situation: we all get cake, while funds are raised for vulnerable refugees.

Last year the campaign went nationwide, with more and more volunteers joining forces to bring cake to the masses during the longest fasts of the decade. As is often the case with the eager volunteers who are the backbone of every charity, not even the hunger of a 19 hour fast could dampen their dedication to the cause.

With over a hundred volunteers manning the phones and almost a thousand more delivering cakes by car and on foot, it has been a logistical operation of immense proportions which, over the past three years, has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for humanitarian relief in Syria.

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Naturally this massively successful campaign has spawned many imitators, as other charities seek to capitalise on its astounding success. This year, for example, SKT Welfare launched its own take on the initiative with its Dates 4 Syria campaign, utilising nearly identical branding and a carbon copy business model. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the Cake Campaign must accept the adulation.

The genius and thoughtfulness of the campaign was incredible. In a move that would do Willy Wonka proud, the final batch of cakes were sent out with five Golden Tickets hidden inside the box. We suspect that even Augustus Gloop ordered a cake for Syria this week. Sadly not all of us were lucky enough to have our slice of cake this year, but we have no doubt this extraordinary campaign will return next year and grow from strength to strength.

Surely it is humbling to see what a vast group of dedicated volunteers can achieve when they all pull together for a common cause. Volunteers of Great Britain, we salute you! Watching from the sidelines (we’re not affiliated with any of the charities involved), we have been seriously impressed and are just an incy-wincy bit jealous. Mashallah, I think it’s okay to be envious of good deeds, mashallah, mashallah! May Allah grant us all the ability to act with such thoughtful selflessness as has been exhibited by this troop of volunteers over the past month.

The one outstanding issue that needs resolving for us, however, is how the nation is planning to burn off all those extra calories imbibed through overindulgence on chocolate fudge cake. Naturally, in a shameless act of self-promotion, we think we have the answer. It’s time to get training for our Adha Challenge of course. You’ve got two months to lick yourself into shape.

Let’s all eat cake this Eid. But when the baklava, halva, gulab jamum, marshmallows and oh too tasty cake have all been dusted off,  you must break out those running shoes. It’s nearly time for another adventure.

Tough Hijabi (2012)

This is a guest post by Dach Lost Star. Enjoy!

Ha. I was going to blog about training for Tough Mudder. Obviously that didn’t happen. The training did but the blogging didn’t. Hmmmmm, the training didn’t really happen either. I went to the gym and did the same thing as I did before I signed up. Despite the lack of blogging and specialist training I still went and I survived and had a blast.

I figure I may as well write a review since I didn’t manage to blog anything else much except my clothing (priorities right?).

Was it fun? Hell yes. Would I do it again? Hell yes but not in the middle of summer which is when the next one in Sydney is scheduled. I love my wrinkle free visage too much to put my hand up for 3 hours running around in sun in February.

The obstacles…… I grew up on a farm so some of the obstacles were kind of like a day playing about on the farm. I climbed hay bales, jumped in the creek and rolled around in the mud.

There was a fire obstacle but after a childhood where the highlight of every winter was burning off it was a bit of an anti-climax. There was plenty of smoke but very little in the way of flames. With all that lycra about I guess they need to be careful of naked flames (if you’re a lycra enthusiastist I urge you to attend Tough Mudder it’s wall to wall lycra).

The electro-shock obstacles weren’t really like when you get dared to touch the electric fence. Actually, they kind of were only there were lots more of them and you couldn’t just touch it with the back of your hand and run away. They hurt like a mo-fo and each one hurts more than the last one but the positive is that it only lasted a short time. In fact most of the obstacles were over pretty quickly once you started. For me the hardest obstacles were the ones that weren’t over in a flash. Carry Your Log which is the obstacle where you do exactly that and the Muddy Mile were both long, drawn out affairs and I was heartily glad to see the back of them.

I’m not sure why I was surprised by the amount of mud to be found on an obstacle course called Tough Mudder but I was. The mud was a germophobe’s nightmare. Judging by amount of horse and cow droppings I ran past there was plenty of manure in the mud and if anyone had any kind of contagious disease we’re all fucked. I’m actually kind of surprised I didn’t end up with gastro. I haven’t gone to the chemist and hooked myself up with worm tablets yet but it’s on my to-do list. I still have some of the mud lodged under my toenails and no amount of scrubbing or close trimming will get it out. I’m hoping that a swim in the sea will do the job.

The Mountain Man was a champ. His ankle is rooted but he ran anyway. And by ran I mean he ran. I was surprised by how many people we passed who were walking most of the course. The organisers were pretty clear about the cardio requirements so I did expect people to be moving a bit faster. That said, after the Muddy Mile which was about the 16km mark our run was more of a slow stumble.

The other contestants were brilliant. I couldn’t have done the course without the help of strangers to get me over the wall and the quarter pipe. Since I have a hard time with asking for help I think it’s probably good for me to do something that forces me to ask for help.

Organisation – they don’t answer emails even for questions that aren’t answered by their FAQs. Really the Tough Mudder customer service is crap and seems to generate ill will. They don’t answer questions on their FB page either although they do seem to clear spam off it. Apparently they are projecting revenue of $150 million this year (I got that figure from their job ad). It wouldn’t hurt to reduce that income a little by providing better customer service.

On the whole despite their crappy attitude towards their customers they did manage to run a generally smooth event, had I waited at obstacle like the Melbourne people did I would have been ropeable. I noticed that they used Red Dawn for security so if there had been dramas requiring decent security they would have been in all sorts of trouble.

Unfortunately they are unlikely to realise just how crappy their security provider is until too late so I’ll just hope they never need good security in Sydney.