Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Great Race!

4-5 September 2010: The Gallagher Great Race & Fun Run

Last weekend, after we returned from our trip, I spent the weekend down by the Waikato river, volunteering at two fun, local events. The first, on Saturday was a short family fun run that wound along the river. The second, on Sunday, was the weekend's main event - The Great Race, an annual rowing competition between our University of Waikato and other international institutions with competitive crew teams. This year, the University of Sydney women's team came, as well as the U.K.'s Cambridge University men's team.

Lately, I've been volunteering in the offices of Parent to Parent, the non-profit organisation for which we are constructing our class PR campaign, that provides information and matches parents of children with similar disabilities so they can offer each other support. I've gone into the office twice to help with random tasks, such as putting together a bunch of info packets for last week's Autism conference, and plan to continue. As Parent to Parent was the benefiting charity of last Saturday's fun run, they gave me the Great Race/fun run volunteer contact info.

On Saturday, Erika walked into town with me and decided to stay and help out too! We were positioned on the finish line, handing out goodie bags, Powerade and spot prizes, cheering people on as they finished the race. It was quite fun seeing everyone so enthusiastic about the run - my favourites were some of the cute little kids, and two dads, pushing strollers, who decided to race it out on the final stretch. After helping, and getting some sweet Great Race t-shirts (to wear the next day too), Erika and I wandered into town, did a bit of shopping and had a delicious lunch - toasted cranberry, avocado, chicken panini on sun-dried tomatoe bread.. mmm.

On Sunday, we were up early and walked over to the event with another girl from the uni who was also volunteering (it's about a 30 min walk from campus to the river/city centre). We were assigned the task of walking around town and handing out flyers to encourage more people to come down to the river-side festival and watch the race. Then, we helped as event staff, walking around with race day schedules and pointing people in the right direction. There were several races throughout the day, such as the high school crew finals, a main stage with various forms of entertainment, including student performers and even a preview of Joseph and the Technicolor dreamcoat, which is currently on at a theatre downtown, a kids area, some yummy food vendors, and of course, lots of people from the surrounding community, picnicking on the grassy river's edge and enjoying the day. Unfortunately, it was overcast and kind of cold, compared to Saturday's brilliant sun, but we had a great day anyway. During the actual race, we had an excellent view, manning the far side of the river, near the large projector TV screen, representing the event staff, complete with walkie-talkie.

From the bridge overlooking the race/events area:
The crowd, cheering on good ol' Waikato, with a waka passing by (Maori boat). They also performed a haka dance for Waikato before the race:Our women's team won by quite a bit, but Cambridge was victorious in the major, men's race :(. It had been an even 2 to 2 tally in previous years, but now we must practice to beat them next time and even it up once again. It must be very difficult, seeing as the race takes place on the strong currents of the river, going upstream. Both teams used the strategy of hugging the river bank to make the most of the calmer water along the sides.

Highlights of the day include my hot and delicious lunch, purchased from the "sausage sizzle" (aka a common vendor used for fundraising that sells sausages, wrapped in a piece of bread, with tomatoe sauce and onions on top). Although, I definitely burned my mouth :(.

Erika's enjoying her strawberry crepe and I'm excited about my sausage sizzle:
Also, the Cambridge team's acceptance speech, made by an elderly British bloke. I don't think I've ever heard the word "faggot" used so many times, if EVER, in an award ceremony... OR a less tactful comment about the opposing team. He said something like: "Well, you know, you have to hand it to Waikato - they're usually never up against such stiff competition, like us; too bad their good rowers are all gone this year" (as our Waikato team was standing right there...) haha, WOW.

And finally, discovering that the British national anthem ("God Save the Queen") sounds remarkably familiar... Oh hey- it has the exact same melody as our American "My Country Tis of Thee." Was it written as a big "f" you to our old Motherland? Overall, we had a great time; it was fun to help out and get involved in a Hamilton community event!

Go Waikato!! :)

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful weekend for a great cause! Rowing upstream must indeed be difficult. Can't wait to have you demonstrate the haka for us. :)