Sunday, September 6, 2009

Samoa Perimeter Relay - Final Report

We ran thru beautiful scenery. Heres Pualele running thru Lalomanu beach, the flattest section of the route.

One die hard individual - Dave Edgar the Ironman, ran the whole thing by himself. Heres Kristen, getting some tips.

At 3am Sinalei Resort, before we start.

Lama runs beside us in the dark - scaring away dogs!

We get warmed up. (and think about ways we can turn back while we still can...) Our rental booking fell thru at the last minute so we had to use a long suffering taxi van. The driver was supremely patient and helpful.
The Morning After.
Its 3am Sunday morning. Im stiff, sore and wishing my fairy godmother would appear with a pizza. Or a huge steak and lobster. Instead Im munching on Bella's gluten free cereal. ( what a letdown) Well, its over. At 3am Saturday morning, our team of six women took off from Sinalei Resort. At 4:24pm in the afternoon - 13 hrs and 24min later - we crossed the finish line beside the Govt Building in town. While Im in no shape to write an official impressive blog, I can say this:

1. The Lord hears and answers prayers. And Hes not too busy to care about six (vaguely crazy) women while they attempt something as mundane as try to run around the island. . Great friends put our names down on the temple roll. We asked the Relief Society to pray for us. And you just know at least 25 diff children with mothers out there, were praying ...please dont let our mum die on the road/fall down in a ditch/get bit by a dog/embarass us by collapsing right in front of the TV3 cameraman. Not to mention there were probably several husbands praying their wives wouldnt get killed and abandon them with some of the aforementioned 25 children.

*We had prayed for good running weather. By good I mean - NOT sweltering sauna sun and heat. And NOT tropical storm and wind either. And the conditions we were blessed with could have been sent straight from a runners textbook on 'perfect weather to run in.' The day was overcast and cool. Breezy to the point of almost being cold. Time and again as I stumbled along trying not to cry cos it was 'just too hard and i was just too tired to go any further' - the wind would blow, giving me the extra lift i needed and a reminder about how Heavenly Father had blessed us all with wonderful running weather and so of course you can keep going because Hes watching out for you. Thank you Lord for the beautiful weather.

*Several of our team were terrified of being attacked by dogs. Especially as we ran in pitch darkness through a coastal village. There had been a lot of angst and soulsearching about what each of us would do if we got attacked. WE took a golf stick to run with. And stayed close to the support car. And we prayed. Fervently. Especially fervently when the dogs started barking all along the road at 4am, sending messages to each other up and down the coast...alert alert, silly women attempting to run through our territory...get ready here comes breakfast...and probably lunch and dinner too. But prayers were answered again. Dogs barked. Dogs ran at us. Dogs thought about us. But not a single dog went into a mad frenzy and attacked us. It helped we had an amazing support team ready and able to jump out of the car and do a mafia faceoff with roving canines. Thank you Lord for protecting us from dogs.

*Probably the best way I can express how wonderfully Heavenly Father took care of us yesterday, is to list all the things that could have gone wrong - but didnt. Nobody got injured. Not even when it was dark and the road was a moving mass of loose gravel and potholes. Not even on the coastal road when traffic was screaming past ( hasnt anybody told these bus drivers that a narrow rural road at Fagaloa? is NOT a super highway?) Nobody collapsed or had to quit. Kristen had pneumonia and we thought we would have to airlift her out. But she powered on and even mustered enough energy to show us some cheerleading moves from her high school days. Pualele didnt sleep the night before. At all. She had two papers due at varsity. And shes giving a talk today in Sacrament. She was decidedly dismal when we picked her up in the van at 1am to drive out to the starting line. But she powered on. Manu had to breastfeed her baby several times during the relay - taking away some valuable energy there. But she powered on. EVerybody finished the relay safe and well. All the support crew finished the relay safe and well. Thank you Lord for keeing us safe.

2. No athlete can compete without a support crew. Not even 'fake' athletes like the Dream Team. As i type this I want to cry ( again) as i think about all the people who helped us to make it to the end. Thank you Darren for sponsoring our team and planting the seed of the idea that a group of ''ordinary' women could even attempt something so extraordinary. Thank you to all the spouses and children who encouraged us to train. And to eat healthy. And took on extra responsibility at home so we could each prepare for this race. Thank you to Johnny for driving a hungry baby all the way so she could be fed - and her mother could still run. Thank you to Tai for finding us a van at the last minute when our rental booking fell through. Thank you-*Samantha and her husband Lama who drove behind our runners from 3am till midmorning. The road was somewhat spooky that early in the morning. We ran through forests that echoed with the sounds of night. But always, their car stayed behind us, highbeaming the way. when dogs barked Lama jumped out to run beside us. When we tired and stopped to walk, Lama jumped out to run beside us. When we got lost and almost lost hope - Lama jumped out to run beside us. When we wanted to quit on a steep hill, Lama ran beside us and encouraged us...just 200 more meters, you can make it, just one foot in front of the other... Basically I think Lama ran at least half the perimeter relay just to keep us motivated! We couldnt have made it without you guys. And Samantha is a superwoman - after being up half the night with us, she then drove back to town in time to play in a netball game. *The Arp family replaced Samantha as the support car. And what overwhelming supporters they were. Each of the Arp children took turns to run beside us - up Le Mafa Pass...and down again. All the way from Piula to town. EVen Sig took a turn to keep us company on the tarseal. They gave us water. And ice sponges. And didnt get offended when we maniacally kept bugging them..."how much further to the changeover? What do you mean u dont know?! Go run ahead and tell me if u see the car u hear me!" Its not easy to drive at super slow speed without going insane. Or 'accidentally' running over the woman staggering in front of you. Thank you Kathy and Co.*Our taxi van driver who transported us the whole 102km. He was patient. And enduring. He drove fast when we needed to get to bathrooms. He drove slow when we followed a shuffling runner. He politely ignored us when we had to use the 'forest au natural' restrooms. He turned a blind eye when we changed sweaty wet clothes. He didnt turn up his nose at a van of perspiring athletes. He was a dream driver.The 2009 Perimeter Relay is over for the Dream Team. We didnt cheat ( like some OTHER teams) We didnt quit. We made it. We 'realized' our dream. And maybe, just maybe we'll do it again next year?


Chris Solomona said...

Hey Lani
Well being the only other womens team in the run what else can we say but congratulate each other on a race well run. Tatou taufaamalo le fai o le faiva. For us it was the first time for anybody to run any type of race event let alone the marathon - and what a marathon it was, suppose a first and last for some- from "Plantation Feet all womens" Malo lava to you and your team and we look foward to seeing you again next year. Cheers

Lani said...

Hi Chris! Grt to 'see' you here. Hey, you should get plantation feet ready for Marks latest 'crazy' idea. A 24 hr marathon relay running around Tuanaimato complex....Im trying to convince the dream teamers that it would, exciting, challenging and a blast. ( theyre not
Keep on running.