THIS time last year my husband told me he thought he’d walk 100 laps at Border Relay for Life.
With just three sleeps to go and no training under his belt, I told him that was a completely brilliant idea. The accompanying eye roll was involuntary, I swear.
Too late. He’d seen it. It was game on.
By the time I arrived at Border Relay for Life about noon Saturday my husband had already chalked up 45 laps.
As I’d been ferrying our girls to dance lessons in the morning and packing everything practical we’d need for the afternoon/evening, I only noticed my own impractical choice of footwear midway into my first lap of Alexandra Park.
However, my Swedish clogs did not trip me up as much as the life-size photo of Manu advertising Wodonga TAFE’s Murray Valley Pork pulled pork sliders. (Please be there again this year!)
Reconnecting with our girls, we walked two laps before joining the face-painting queue where they were expertly made up into a Dalmatian and princess.
Not content with the preschoolish and cloggish race pace, our eldest joined her dad for a lazy 10 laps while the youngest and I sought refuge in the shade. I swigged on one of our girls’ water bottles, knowing there was a good chance I’d catch something but too thirsty to care. Besides I was cash-strapped as my primary source of income for the day was partway into his 62nd lap.
My preschooler and me wrapped up another lap before we hunkered down trackside to listen to the music. I planned to livestream the cover of Vance Joy’s Riptide on Periscope but my preschooler was suddenly busting for the loo. Livestreaming could have taken on a whole new meaning.
Trackside again, I was amazed at the dedicated man who spruiked “Get your icy cold Gatorade, $1 a cup” for hours on end. He rated second only to the man giving away free High-5s.
Once my husband chalked up his 75th lap at 4pm, he realised his feet hurt.
Our girls reapplied their sunscreen without giving their face-paint a second thought!
We bought flashing headbands for the girls for the evening ceremony and headed home for Band-Aids, socks and sensible shoes … and to wash the girls’ faces.
Back on track at 5.30pm, I enjoyed the walk in my runners but our preschooler’s tyres were wearing thin.
“Hmmmph, we just keep going around in circles,” she said.
Later we camped on the damp grass for the touching Hope ceremony as night swallowed day.
Three years ago our oldest and me tagged on the end of the moving lap led by cancer survivors while my husband stayed with our toddler; the following year I had planned to stay with our then three-year-old while my husband joined our eldest.
The youngest had different ideas: “I can do NO-TALKING! I CAN DO NO-TALKING!!!” she screamed at the top of her lungs as people assembled silently for the lap. Finally all I could do to stop her non-talking was join the end of the procession.
True to her word, she didn’t make a single sound for the entire lap.
On Sunday morning after last year’s Relay for Life event I woke up with a scratchy throat.
“Stupid drink bottle,” I croaked, "I have a sore throat."
My husband replied: “My throat is the only thing that isn’t sore!”
+ This column is a tribute to the people battling cancer who know only too-well real pain as opposed to trivial discomfort.