Rules for the Tyre Race.
- Wear the official Tyre Race t-shirt while racing.
- Collect one number sign per team the week before the race. This number sign will be necessary to collect the remaining number signs for each team. Without the first number sign, the team will not be able to race.
- Pin your number sign on the front of said Tyre Race t-shirt at chest height.
- The soap used to grease the tyre must be that given by the Tyre Race staff.
- Tyres must be pushed using two sticks.
- These sticks may not be tied together, nor may they have additions such as ball bearings or other facilitating equipment.
- Tyres must be placed on the ground at the start of the race.
- Adults must run in teams of five. Of these five, four must cross the finishing line together, otherwise the team will be eliminated.
There were 6 teams of "mamas" (large matronly Mahorese ladies), 6 teams of "big tyres" of which the largest tyre was 1.70m high and weighed 450kg, 11 female teams and 42 male or mixed teams. We came 10th out of 11, having walked for a good part of the race, one of us having had trouble with her camera, another having lost her tyre four times and a third having run like crazy with headphones on and then having had to wait for us because she couldn't hear us shouting for her to slow down. The tyre itself is surprisingly easy to manage: you fit two sticks into a solid container such as a metal tin or half a small plastic bottle, grease it all with soap and water and run, either holding the sticks away from the tyre to go quickly or pressing them to the tyre in order to brake. However, I hadn't run since secondary school... which was what... nine years ago... so the actual running was the hardest part for me.
Our team was running for the Bretons of Mayotte, so we were dressed - or at least headdressed - as Breton ladies. Which meant a tall coiffe and, for one of us (guess which one), a Breton flag. The headdresses had empty water bottles in them to make them stay up, and they were tied under the chin using long lace flaps. Total height: about 30cm. Just in case the race itself wasn't hard enough, may as well have the odd extra difficulty trying to get the headdresses to stay on our heads. We were a bit skeptical - and looked just slightly ridiculous - at the start, but it was well worth it because we got an amazing amount of encouragement from the spectators who recognized the coiffes and flag. One even stationed himself in the middle of the road with a camera and shouted: "Smile, I'm from Brittany too!".
The race was roughly 2.5km long with a great big hill in the middle. Upwards was hard on the legs, downwards was hard as the tyre tended to run away by itself. My favourite part of the race was the people on the side of the road who clapped and screamed encouragement at us as we passed. Several people stood in the middle of the road to take photos. Just after we set off, a group of people were walking in the middle of the road with their backs to us, so when we came near to them, we shouted: "Watch out, we don't know how to brake!".
Bright red of course upon arrival, where we were quickly interviewed by the local TV and radio station, Mayotte 1ère... who asked us about the meaning of the headdress, and could we please say a few words in the Breton dialect about the tyre race?
The race was great fun and I'd love to do it again next year. It seems impressive but it's actually quite easy, and really good fun.
Interview before the race...
...and interview after the race!
With Jack Passe, the creator of the Grand Tyre Race 30 years ago.