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THE cup started more than an hour late, temperatures soared beyond 40 degrees and food stalls threatened to run out of bottled water.
Oh, and the biggest race of all — the Madman’s Mile foot race — was cancelled for the first time in memory.
But a brave, innovative and enthusiastic crowd was oblivious or didn’t mind at Saturday’s Dederang Cup picnic races.
Brave because the heat was kind to no one, least of all this reporter who was drenched in sweat from the moment he stepped out of the car.
Innovative for the amount of blow-up pools scattered around — that and one man’s 14,000-litre water tanker and airconditioned caravan.
And enthusiastic because everyone had a smile.
Perhaps the busiest man on the day was Dederang Race Club secretary D’Arcy Townsend.
He was disappointed the 2500-strong crowd was down on most other years when 5000 plus come through the gates.
But even Townsend was walking on the bright side of the track.
“Given the circumstances it’s been good ... we’ve had the odd breeze come through, the clouds are building up and the people here today have a good time which is the main thing,” he said.
Former AFL star Nathan Brown seemed to be enjoying himself, too.
The fashions on the field judge grew up in Bendigo and is well accustomed to country race meetings.
“It’s a bit different to Melbourne,” Brown said.
“There’s just that extended warmth people give you out in the country and it’s a nice change.”
“I thought the girls did a great job dressing up in 44-degree heat. I even saw a guy dressed up in a full suit and tie.”
For Maidie Dawson it was all too familiar.
The Kergunyah local, 18, sang the pre-cup national anthem for the sixth year in a row.
She did an admirable job considering three “patriotic” men in Hawaiian shirts were doing their best to distract her the whole way through.
But Saturday was her last appearance.
She said next year she would travel “as far away as possible” to work.