02 Sep Our PreNup Agreement.
Saturday morning, when I should have been sleeping, I loaded up into a taxi van at 2am with the Hot Man and two other couples – Mark and Luisa Small, Daniel and Hanah Afoa – and drove out to Sinalei Resort at Siumu village to start the Samoa Perimeter Relay. Organized by the US Samoa Veteran’s Assoc as a community service outreach event, the relay is 104km of winding roads through coastal villages and rainforest and over the mountain pass of Le Mafa before heading back to Apia. Teams of six take turns carrying a baton from start to finish, with each person running approximately 5k, four times.
Yes, after four years, I had been persuaded to do the Relay again. Even though I’ve been sick and miserable with some ongoing health issues, and even though I’d only done a couple of weeks of “training”. (Ha. If you count delightful walks along the seawall, admiring the sunrise, blasting Eminem and stopping often to take photos and Facebook – “training”, then yeah, I’ve been doing lots of that.)
What got me into that early morning van? The opportunity to do a sports event WITH my husband – as opposed to being the usual watergirl and cheerleader on the sidelines. Both Mark and Daniel are Samoan Ironmen with the Hot Man and all three of them have been training and competing together for the past year. The promise of some fabulous fun times along the way with good friends was also a huge drawcard.
Before the female component of the team agreed to do it though, we had certain conditions and requirements. Especially as none of us are Iron athletes and only Luisa was a regular runner and exercise’r. After much discussion (over lots of drinks and dinners and family beach outings…) a PreNup Race agreement was negotiated.
Team IronHeart PreNup Race Agreement
1. The purpose of the venture is FUN. And FUN only. At no point will the Ironmen impose their elite athlete standards and expectations upon us and our efforts. No matter how dismal they may be.
2. The goal of our team is to FINISH the race. Without dying. (Vomiting, crying and curse-words optional.) Therefore, the Ironmen will not get upset when other teams pass us on the route and leave us in a cloud of dust. The Ironmen will not get sad or angry or frustrated. No matter what. Even if we come in last. Even if the other runners who overtake us are senior citizens / sluggish non-athletes / running backwards.
3. The safety of the female component will be the Ironmen’s first priority at all times. They will put their lives on the line to protect us from: vicious Samoan dogs, gigantic angry Samoan pigs, little children who might throw rocks or say bad words at us (words like, “waaah, palagi valea!” and “aikae!”), heatstroke, dehydration and the possibility one of us could trip and fall off the mountain at Le Mafa Pass.
4. The comfort and happiness of the female component will be the Ironmen’s second priority at all times. They will sell their souls to ensure we travel in an air-conditioned van and have a delightful selection of energizing snacks. They will speed up and down backroads to get us to decent restrooms because everybody knows that a woman NEEDS to GO before she can run up or down a mountain, and we would reeeally rather prefer not to pit stop in the bushes. They will provide ice, water, Diet Coke, chocolate, cheerful banter and motivating music at all times on the journey.
5. And IF after all that, any of us women decide that running/walking a 5k four different times throughout the 12 hour period – is a stupid idea and “I QUIT DAMMIT.” Then her partner will run her sections for her. Without complaint. Or (much more likely) without cheering because it means the team will go twice as quick…
At 3.45am, the Hot Man started running the first leg. There’s no street lights out in the rural coast so the first five runners needed us to highbeam the road so they didn’t trip in a pothole. Fall over a snoozing pig. Or get hit by an early morning bus. It was raining and windy so everybody got soaked through pretty quickly.
Luisa was runner two and she was doing fine until a pack of dogs got excited and started barking up a storm. Her screams for help were so loud that we almost crashed the van in our haste to pull over and leap out to rescue her – except she didn’t need rescuing after all because the dogs were scared off by her fierce shouts and so she continued powering on through the darkness.
By the time the baton came to me for my first leg, the sun was coming up and it was a stunning dawn in paradise. Something funny happened to my legs after the first ten minutes and they hurt like hell. I decided then that once I got back in the van, I would inform the Hot Man that he needed to take over for me. I tried not to cry as I went up and down hills approaching Vavau and the bloody road just seemed to go on forever.
People in the village were starting to wake up and be up and about. Small children waved and smiled. Women sweeping cut grass by the roadside gave me sympathetic looks. Old men sitting in open fale called out encouragement, “Malo, fa’amalosi!” (But a grazing horse paused to stare at me with disdain.) I suspect they all were secretly wondering, What the hell does this vale woman think she’s doing? Walking through here at 6am in her fia’runner ofu, carrying a baton, followed by a truck that has to crawl along at a snail’s pace for how many hours!?
The day progressed with lots more of the same. Running, walking, thinking ‘this is a dumb idea…who’s idea was this?’, wondering ‘should I fake an injury so I can get out of running my next leg?’, and lots of laughing and commiserating in between turns.
Our van got messier and smellier and sweatier with each kilometre. The sun came out with a vengeance and I lived for the moment after each leg when I could climb inside the massive ice bucket on the back of the truck and have blessed relief for my feet and aching muscles. So grateful for Hanah and Luisa. They made the distance bearable and doable and fun’able. You should only ever do a long distance endurance relay with people you like and that make you laugh. Because otherwise, you could end up throwing yourself off a cliff to escape them. (Or pushing someone off.)
Huge appreciation for the USA Samoa Veterans organizers led by Mark and Pat Moors, and all the volunteers that make this event happen every year.