This year’s Powerade Challenge enjoyed an explosion of participation and excitement as it more than doubled last year’s number of runners.  In some cases, like with the Black Stick Women in Auckland, it proved to be a source of good-natured competition.  In others, like when Mother Nature didn’t cooperate in Wellington, it proved that it would take a lot more than a little driving rain, gusty winds and sideways hail to keep New Zealanders from getting in their exercise.   But in all cases, it proved that there are many Kiwis committed to active healthy lives.

A bit of background on the Challenge: the Powerade Challenge is made up of two interactive jogging routes—a 9km course along the Auckland waterfront, and an 8km route along Oriental Bay in Wellington.  Using Powerade blue RFID (radio-frequency identification) bands, runners check in at a designated Powerade vending machine and begin their journey.  The courses feature interactive billboards, which offer runners words of encouragement along the way, like:

“Go hard, Rhys!”

“Keep it up, Tracey!”

Nic Gill Powerade

Once finished, runners check back in at the vending machine at the end of the course.  Their times are uploaded onto to the Powerade website, allowing them to track their stats against other Auckland and Wellington runners, as well as NZ sports personalities Kirk Penney (basketball), Aaron Smith (rugby), Ali Shanks (cycling), Nic Gill (All Blacks strength & conditioning coach) and the Black Sticks Women. 

For many, the Powerade Challenge was a novelty.  For others, it was an integral part of their winter workout routine.  Some ran it once, some ran it twice, some ran more than that, and one determined chap ran it a whopping 44 times.  But no matter the level of fitness or speed, there was an inherent camaraderie of sorts among the participants.  “It was awesome being out on the course and seeing the other 'blue bracelet' crews out running,” said Naomi  Burt.  “Most would flash you a smile, a nod or even the ol' raised eyebrows as an acknowledgement.”

The purpose of the Powerade Challenge was to give Kiwis an outlet to get active, and to tap into their competitive spirit.  It’s a programme Coke is committed to supporting in the quest to help promote physical activity and energy balance.  Canvassing much of the feedback we received, the Challenge helped many participants make progress towards their weight and athletic goals.  Chris Thurlow of Wellington wrote in that he lost 20 kgs and dropped his time by more than nine minutes throughout the life of the Challenge.  And between Naomi and her workout partner, they lost in excess of 15kgs this season, which she attributed to the motivation derived in large part from the Challenge.

All told, Kiwis can hold their heads high for a job well done.  Over two months, 8,700 runners between Auckland and Wellington completed more than 14,000 runs.  Do a little bit of maths and you’ll find that, collectively, Powerade Challenge participants combined to tally more than 123,000 kms.  That’s more than three times around the Earth

Should the Challenge return in 2014, if this year is any indication, Kiwis will be ready for it.