In the weekend I was on a team of 6 women that ran 104km halfway round the island. We started our journey from Siumu at 2:30am and crossed the finish line in Apia almost fourteen hours later at 4pm. We ran through the night. We watched the sun light up the sky at Aufaga.We ran through the rain. We ran in the sun. We hiked up hills. We crossed over bridges. We ran over a mountain. We ran with blisters, sunburn and muscle cramps. We ran so hard we wanted to vomit. We went to the bathroom in LDS chapels – thank you for the generosity of a church with clean, workable toilets that always have toilet paper! We went to the bathroom in the bushes – and came out with butts covered in prickles. We went to the bathrooms in complete strangers homes – thank you, thank you for the unquestioning hospitality of our Samoan people!
We tried to have fun. We laughed. (even when we wanted to cry.) We sang. We danced. We line danced the Macarena on the way up Le Mafa Pass, shaking our (substantial) booties in the middle of the road under a blue sky while a cluster of bemused children watched and questioned our sanity. We stood in the middle of the road and did the Wave. We did cheerleading routines people remembered from their high school days. We cheered for every team that overtook us. (A lot of cheering because we were overtaken by nearly EVERY team in the relay.) We put flowers in our hair. We ate chocolate bars and drank Vi for energy. We discussed the possibility of taking our shirts off for a grand finale as we ran across the finish line…but decided the embarrassment would be too much for our children to bear.
We ran, and as we ran, our support team followed. Three amazing men with the patience to drive behind us, VERY VERY SLOWLY for the entire route. They were the Dog Chasers armed with sticks. They were the water crew who gave us iced sponges and cooling towels. They were the medics who bandaged chafed bloody feet. They were the protectors who formed a barrier for the massive cement trucks and buses that barreled down Le Mafa Pass uncaring and unseeing of a lone woman warrior striding down a sun-baked road. They were the photographers who leapt out in front of us to catch that perfect poised shot of a woman in purple staggering through a tsunami ravaged wasteland. They were amazing. Thank you.
Another Perimeter Relay has come and gone. I can now say, that I have completed a 104km course with a fantastic group of women…twice.