Under blazing sunshine, the 2020 NZHL XRACE season kicked off in Palmerston North on Saturday.
Wave after wave of our XRACE families earned their green T-shirt and finisher medals as they made their way around a course that included for Palmy, a compulsory water run and for first-time city New Plymouth on Sunday - a rock run.
We have long said that XRACE brings together the best families in the country and here’s why - it’s because of you, the parents.
It could be so easy to find any reason to say “NO” to racing alongside your son or daughter - all you need to do is pick any excuse but no, thousands of mums and dads of all shapes, sizes and fitness levels have said “YES I’m your teammate - let’s do this.”
XRACE is all about building self-esteem and resilience in our kids but it begins with you - the parents.
One mum and dad in Palmerston North embodied everything that personifies our XRACE parents.
Our production team had no idea whatsoever that in one team, mum was restricted to a wheelchair or so we thought.
This family team (pictured) asked no favours. The first we knew that mum was in a chair was when they lined up in their wave with all the other teams.
I asked the team if they were all good - “yeah mate, we’ve got this” was all dad needed to say.
All I could add was that if you get stuck anywhere, just ask another team to help you out.
It turns out they didn’t need any help as mum, dad and the kids absa-bloody-lutely nailed the course.
If a challenge required a parent to be on the ground – the teammates helped mum down and off, she went.
At Ti Rakau – she was there, on the deck with her team mate – no dramas, nailing it.
If the challenge involved wasn’t friendly to a wheelchair, this family team found a solution. At our famous memory challenge - set on a hill - dad pushed mum up to get her answers and on the way down the hill she was, I kid you not, popping wheelies, pulling the chair up onto the back two wheels.
Then to the water run. The clue is in the name and I asked one of our crew, how did mum get on as running really isn’t her strength.
Here is the reply and I quote “OMG the dad was amazing. Mum started swimming backstroke for as long as she could - then dad helped her along - while he was helping his own kids along as well."
Question. How do you get mum with a disability out of a swimming pool?
Answer. Dad just chucked her on her back and climbed up the steps, that's how.
“She ain’t heavy. She’s my wife.”
This family team slowly made their way from one of the early waves right down to the very back of the field - almost the last team across the line.
We announced their story and every green shirted mum, dad, son and daughter from this army town formed a tight-knit, ragged guard of honour and cheered them the last 100 metres to their finish line.
A finish line befitting a family of role models - for all of us.
We gave dad the spirit of XRACE award and title sponsor, NZHL shouted dad a Fit Bit.
And then, just like that, this superhero family were gone - to feed out hay to drought-stricken farmers or something like that would be my guess.