Lilyfontein School’s famous Tomato Trot & Cycle turned 26 this year, and took place a bit differently than usual. Under ‘normal’ circumstances the event attracts over 2500 participants and another 2500 spectators. However, due to Covid-19 restrictions, we decided that this year it would be best for the school and for the event as a whole if it were held in a virtual format. And thus was born the TROT-Lite Virtual Tomato Trot & Cycle!

We were thrilled to take up the challenge, and changed the MO completely. Covid gave us the opportunity to think differently, rebrand and reinvent.  For this year’s merchandising, we decided to order medals and buffs for the first 1000 participants instead of the famous TROT t-shirt of past years. The switch from a shirt to a buff brought the entry fee down dramatically, and distributing the one-size-fits-all merch was a breeze with participants being able to collect from Sportsman’s Warehouse.

We managed to source 22 sponsors to brand the beautifully designed buff. We thank these businesses for supporting the school and the event, with a special vote of thanks going out to TWIZZA for supplying the funky medals. The buffs and medals were well received by our TROTTERS and created some interesting fashion statements across town over the 10 day participation period. 

As is a tradition, participants are gifted at the finish of their Tomato Trot & Cycle with a bag of tomatoes from our local farmers. This year we gifted each participant with a sachet of KFC ketchup in lieu of their bag of tomatoes. This simple solution to the bag of tomatoes was a fun and quirky way of keeping the tradition alive, thanks KFC for the tasty tomato sauce. 

What has been wonderful to witness is the number of families that supported this year’s event. Thank you to the many people who got out and active with their children in the past 10 days to participate in the TROT-Lite, taking pics along the way and sharing the love on social media.

To the local running and cycling clubs, we thank you for supporting us and enjoying the fellowship of the virtual event.  Some Striders even came out to Tomato Country and plotted a route through the area. 

Lilyfontein School learners were challenged to participate in all 6 of the events namely: the 5km and 15km run/walk, 8km, 5km, 35km and 55km cycles, this was penned as the Ultimate Trot Challenge and anyone in the High School was dared to complete all of them. We would like to acknowledge Rachel Bursey, a grade 8 learner, and Lilyfontein School Head Leader Kirsten Nash, who both successfully completed all 6 events in the allotted time (as of print). 

As part of supporting our community we encouraged participants to make use of the local bike parks in and around East London, either to clock their cycle or running routes. Emerald Vale Brewery and Sama Sama jumped on board offering specials and discounts to all TROTTERS. 

All in all the TROT flame was kept alive and the people of East London certainly go their TROT ON!