What Matters in the Long Run

Beneath towering rocky peaks, alongside pristine, freshwater lakes, 11,000 runners experienced the world’s most scenic marathon — the Queenstown Marathon in New Zealand — on Saturday 18 November.

For two of those athletes, it was a celebration of beauty and brotherhood; an unexpected adventure they will share forever.

I’ve got your back

Josh Favaloro is our Visual Media Director. James Neethling is our Photographer. Josh and James have known each other and worked together for more than six years. They have an easy friendship forged by the pressure of hundreds of demanding shoots.

As well as being a talented photographer, James is the visual media department’s driver, builder, problem-solver, tech jockey and chief spider wrangler. He’s also the son of our Co-Founders, Kerry and Siebert.

James lives and works with a significant hearing impairment. Kerry and Siebert left their native South Africa for Australia more than 20 years ago, to make sure he had the best possible integrated education — something not available in South Africa at the time. James can safely say The Being Group would not exist, were it not for him.

In the film industry, they say if something can go wrong on a shoot, it probably will, so improvising solutions on the fly is critical to delivering great video. As such, our visual media department is a tight-knit group.

Recently, our Senior Videographers Aidan and Alessio were on their way to a country shoot when their 4WD broke down, two hours from our head office in Sydney. After a flurry of phone calls, Josh and James drove two cars to their stricken colleagues, gave them one vehicle to carry on with the shoot, used the other to get the 4WD fixed and eventually made it back to Sydney. (Did we mention it was also a public holiday?)

So, when James sent an email to colleagues, asking if anyone was interested in running the Queenstown Marathon, it was (of course) Josh who had his back. And that was just as James had hoped.

Feeling the vibe

James first ran the race in 2019 and fell in love with it.

“I wanted to do it again because it’s just so beautiful and different to running in a city. I think Queenstown is amazing. I knew Josh would love the once-in-a-lifetime experience. I wanted to persuade him to do it,” says James.

“When I saw James was looking for a marathon buddy, it was a no-brainer for me,” says Josh. “I wanted to try a different kind of running to what I’d been doing, the course looked incredible, and I wanted to support James in something he clearly loves,” says Josh.

The vibe of Queenstown, a buzzing international resort, is extraordinary when the marathon is in town. It’s the biggest weekend of the year, generating more than $20 million for the local economy.

“No matter where you went, you got talking to someone. It was such a fun, happy atmosphere,” says Josh.

Planned to perfection

James has to work hard to manage verbal communication. It’s something he steps up to every day in his personal and professional life.

But it’s not as if he needed help organising the trip. Josh was presented with a perfect printed itinerary with everything pre-booked, including a recovery session at a spa after the race, a visit to a local artisan brewery, and dinner, reached by cable car, on a mountain above Queenstown. “It was a cruisy trip for me,” says Josh. “And we love the same stuff, so he knew what would be fun for us.”

It’s fair to say they’re both quite fit. For Josh, the 42 km marathon is perhaps a little bit short. He’s run four ultramarathons: two 50 km, one 70 km and one 80 km. For James, it’s perhaps a little bit far. He’s a cross country short course specialist, but will often arrive at work in running gear, looking a little warm (but also pretty cool), having just run 18 km from home. Sometimes he runs home in the evening.

In the end, Josh ran a time of 3.40.11, including bathroom stops, and James ran 3.51.44, beating his 2019 time — which was marred by a terrible cramp — by 20 minutes.

Though this was a personal endeavour, Josh and James were determined to represent The Being Group. So, they created their own branded running kit after extensive testing to ensure the logo would stick when ironed onto acrylic.

Mountains of memories

Although running conditions were perfect on the weekend, Josh had about one minute of running joy and spent the rest battling stomach cramps.

“I saw more of the inside of a portaloo than I did mountains and lakes,” says Josh. “That’s running. Usually those sorts of things go away, but this time they didn’t.” Josh doesn’t remember much of the race, or his surroundings, such was his focus on running the best race he could.

The Queenstown Marathon is well on its way to becoming a lifelong obsession for James. The pure lakes and dramatic mountains of Central Otago and the buzz of busy, beautiful Queenstown will call him back every year — and he’ll answer if he can.

“This one was better than the first one. The weather was perfect this time and I didn’t cramp up, so I was able to really enjoy the moment and the scenery,” says James.

For Josh, it was a moment he would never have experienced if James hadn’t made it happen. For James, it was about sharing something deeply special with someone he knew would understand. This was a moment made because a couple of mates had each other’s back.

Josh and James share friendship, trust, respect and a mountain of extraordinary memories. Now, at the top of the list, is that wonderful weekend in Queenstown.

Josh, James and all the other fabulous Beings are always ready for a strategic or creative challenge. We’d love to meet you. Reach out here.

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