Sutherland Shire Relay for Life 2019

Over 8 hours of walking, more than 60,000 steps, 30 minutes sleep and two very blistered feet.

This year I joined the Dark Fire Fitness team in the Cancer Council’s Sutherland Shire Relay For Life to raise funds for cancer research and treatment.

After Alex’s tennis tournament I arrived at midday to Don Lucas Reserve at Cronulla to find most of the other members already there. We had a simple marquee and small tent setup. The previous day I’d spent the afternoon and evening deep frying cekodok pisang (banana fritters), karaage chicken and inchi kabin (Malaysian spiced chicken) to share amongst the team.

The relay involves maintaining a constant walking (or running for some) relay along the 400 metres track for 24 hours.

I preferred doing the late night shifts after 10 pm to avoid the loud live music blaring out from the main stage, walking for one period between 10 pm  to 1 am, then another between 3 – 4 am when I found it too cold to sleep.

I had my bag decked out with electroluminescent wire and a Microbit programmed to display animations and the current temperature on its LEDs. The lowest it showed was 12 degrees Centigrade.

By the end of that last walk my body had well and truly enough, my feet too blistered to continue. I staggered to the only food truck still open, a poffertjes stall, and carried my little batter balls and some ice cream off to the food tent, which offered a modicum of warmth and shelter. They tasted so good.

Then I managed to fall asleep in a camp chair for about half and hour, waking to see the sunrise. Somehow I dragged myself up for another few laps before the relay closed at 10 am, just as the rain started to fall. Whatever pain I felt was nothing compared to what cancer sufferers go through and it felt special to have a chance to high five survivors as we did those final laps.

It was good to chat to the other members, who I know through karate, as we walked and to have some rare quiet time alone to listen to a podcast. The reserve is also in a great location to watch aircraft on their take-off or landing approaches into Sydney Airport.

I could barely walk through Miranda after B and Alex picked me up this morning and, once home, enjoyed a hot shower before falling fast asleep for a few hours.

I’m looking forward to doing it again next year, but with some better preparation and hopefully somewhere warm to sleep.

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