Running in Circles for Charity

Relay 4 Life, staged by the Cancer Council of Australia, is a concept dear to my heart. I have participated as a team member – walking and running through the night to raise much-needed funds for cancer research, and now I am getting the opportunity, through my business, to add another dimension to this spectacular fundraiser. 

For those who are unfamiliar, Relay 4 Life involves fundraisers – in teams and individually – walking, running, or otherwise making their way around an oval track, usually an athletic track for a given period – usually 12 hours but formerly overnight which involved some camping and the associated hilarity. 

While the lap runners do their thing, there is a host of activities happening at the venue – musical performers, fashion shows, box car derbies, raffles, contests and games. The whole day is bookended by laps by cancer survivors and their carers, and punctuated by tributes, fightbacks, and the very moving candlelit ceremony, which involves a silent lap of tribute which never fails to melt even the hardest heart. 

In all, a very moving and rewarding day, and one that up until recently, relied on the honesty of the lap runners to tally their completed laps. 

Tempus was hired this year by two Relays – one in Maitland and the other in Newcastle – to assist in the lap counting and measuring the total distance covered by the Relayers and their teams. So in basic terms, it is a 12-hour lap race with competitors stepping off and on or finishing whenever they wish. There is no compulsion to run/walk for the entire 12 hours. 

But the electronic count and the associated TV leaderboard added a whole new dimension, and suddenly the casual lap walking became extremely competitive. Relayers would pause at the end of each lap to gaze at the screen and calculate how fast they would have to lap to catch their nearest rival. A gripping contest played out among the top 10 competitors, and we sat transfixed as the drama played out. Would Michael catch Ben? Would anyone catch Angela? 

This fierce rivalry was totally unexpected – not among the running clubs that attended, but between the Relayers who may not have been by nature competitive before this event. There were many positive comments following the event, and some bemoaning that it was closed down too soon – before they had a chance to do the laps they had targeted for themselves. Probably something that hadn’t even occurred to them when they began the Relay at 10.00am. 

These Relays may become my favourite events to time, if this competitive edge appears every time. They were already one of my favourite fundraisers – both for the physical dimension of running/walking for hours, and for the huge variety of activities at each venue. 

We are keenly looking forward to the next Relay in Newcastle. 

Full results with all laps and lap times can be found here.

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