Catching our breath…

Inspirational blind water skiers Ben Pettingill and Luke Johnson at this year’ Southern 80

Phew… we’re still catching our breath here after an epic couple of months managing the social media pages for Echuca Moama’s Southern 80 (S80) – the world’s biggest ski race!

It is the second year we’ve taken on this 10-week social media campaign and it’s been an extremely rewarding, albeit pretty intense, experience.

The S80 Facebook page alone has more than 38,000 followers and it’s been awesome to work with such huge numbers on a daily basis and manage the constant engagement that comes with it.

For anyone playing in the social media space (which is just about everyone these days) you would know that active engagement on your social pages is just as important as posting and it’s the liking, responding and inviting you do that nurtures and grows your audience.

Live video and stories (on both FB and Instagram) was a huge growth area for S80 this year and we know it’s where a large portion of the online social audience is now hanging out.

We also know it’s the human-interest stories at an event like S80 that attracts the most likes, comments and shares.

As well as the fast boats and record times, it’s the stories of families, friends and brave individuals conquering their fears and pushing themselves to achieve something amazing that resonates the most.

Running with the adrenaline of an event like S80 is full-on and we had a thrilling roller-coaster ride covering all the action, however meeting the people involved and sharing their stories was the highlight for us.

Stories of long-time ski racing families; grandparents towing their grandkids; and three generations involved in the one team, are commonplace at the S80, and for us as storytellers it’s what makes the event.

Stories of bravery and incredible physical challenge stand out and it’s hard to go past the story of Ben Pettingill.

On the weekend Ben made S80 history by becoming the first legally blind skier to complete the full 80km course and it was truly amazing to witness this inspirational achievement! At last year’s event Ben competed in the 20km disability class and inspired youngster Luke Johnson (who is also legally blind) to take on the same challenge in 2018. We caught up with the boys and their support teams on the weekend and it was such a thrill sharing the joy and elation with them.

Ben and Luke’s stories are just a snapshot of the many we unearthed and made working on the Southern 80 project so rewarding.

Yes, there is some negative press associated with S80 and unfortunately there has been tragedy in recent years, however when you look past the headlines there is a close-knit ski racing community, made up of hundreds of volunteers, families and friends, who just love being involved with this grassroots, community-driven event.

It’s been an absolute pleasure to share the stories of the Southern 80 – an event that injects almost $20 million into the Echuca Moama economy – and we look forward to working with the Moama Water Sports Cub again in the future.

But for now we will turn our attention to Echuca’s stunning Aquatic Reserve and welcome an absolute bevy of musical talent to our riverside community for the annual Riverboats Music Festival.

Make sure you check out the event program, in which we were lucky enough to interview and write about just a few of the stellar acts coming for this year’s event.

We’ll be seeing you there….

Christy and Leonie xo

#southern80 #riverboatsfestival #community #spreadingthegoodstuff