With The Help Of A Mate


Ah, Bob, do you recall how we all gathered in the dark
In Sydney there before the clock struck five?
And waited for the call to get each starter on his mark
When nothing else in Sydney seemed alive?

And then the starter's signal sent the racing field away,
A gentle pace with fifty miles ahead;
For we'd be running on that road for more than half the day,
By that time with a dragging, weary tread.

Each runner had a crew to keep account of time and miles,
Dispensing drink and nourishment en route.
As many drinks and recipes as there were running styles
From caffeine gulps to over ripened fruit.

And Lexie drove for you that day, your faithful little wife,
And followed you with tender loving care.
I had a friendly doctor trying to keep me out of strife
Until the end at Wollongong down there.

The first few miles were run along the highway in the dark;
An easy pace, and chatting as we went
Through Newtown and St. Peters on the west of Cahill Park
By now the night-time's dark was almost spent.

So as we went through Arncliffe we could see the lightening sky
When early waking magpies called the dawn.
And just a little later then, with Kogarah passed by
The shroud of night was totally withdrawn.

And Bob, do you remember as we crossed Tom Ugly's bridge
The long and unrelenting five mile climb?
And how we set our sights and hearts on getting to the ridge?
The least important thing for us was time.

So Engadine and Heathcote and then Waterfall were passed
And out along the top on Madden's Plains.
The sun, now riding high, was sending out its fiery blast
Which added to the growing muscle pains.

I struggled through some cramps and with blood sugar level low
Began to go to sleep while on the run.
You offered me some help mate, but with thanks I made you go;
Was nothing you could do, my race was done.

I sank down to the ground beside the doctor's waiting car
And quenched my thirst with carbo loaded drink,
And hoped I might recover, for the finish wasn't far;
Was only fifteen miles to go, I think.

My system snatched the sugar, and it really saved the day;
In twenty minutes I was on my feet.
With pace a little slow this time, but I was on my way
And pushing on in mid-day's blazing heat.

The hills and gullies on that road before Mount Ousley's drop
Made progress even slower than before.
Downhill you dare not fall, and going up you dare not stop
For who's to say, you might not start once more.

And coming down Mount Ousley, through the gaps between the trees,
With Keira overlooking on the right,
We saw the wide blue ocean with its ever rolling seas;
We knew the finish line was now in sight.

I made it to the end, about an hour behind you mate,
But knowing you were waiting there for me
Was willing me to finish; there was no such thing as late,
And thank you for that sweet, sweet cup of tea.

The goal was not to win the race, but get across the line,
And finishing is victory enough.
The legs and weary body—well—they didn't feel too fine,
To spend nine hours like that is really tough.

The side-by-side companionship you offered on the way,
The strength from one who'd run before was great;
And when you left, that spirit stayed; what more is there to say
But, "Only with the help of such a mate."


© Tom Chapman 2007