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It's tyre-racing time. 

The Bretons of Mayotte have two teams, one all-female, one all-male. The leader of the Bretons works in the police station and usually manages to rope in a team of policemen/women. He'd managed it last year, and had seemed to manage it this year as well. He'd asked me if I wanted to take part again, and I'd said yes please, and I have a friend who'd like to run as well. He therefore left two spaces in the team for us, and filled up the remaining three with girls from the police station.

I emailed him our contact details and he rang back five minutes later, saying that the three police ladies had changed their minds or suddenly weren't available any more. If I wanted to run, I had before 8 a.m. the next morning to get a team of five girls together. Challenge accepted. I went down my phone contact list, calling all girls who seemed to me to be interested in this sort of thing, got a few refusals, a few who didn't know and would have to think about it... and finally persuaded one friend from my dance class, one friend of a friend and one adult pupil to say yes.

After a good few Mahorese turnarounds, I picked up five tyres and ten sticks from two different places, tried to convince the girls to come and practice driving a tyre around, got all but one involved and carted all the clutter around in my car boot for ten days or so. The remaining girl was the sportiest of the lot, so I figured she'd be fine.

         

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Got to the right place on the right date at the right time, put our Breton headdresses on to make ourselves more visible in the crowd and lined up to start. Of course, being Bretons, the minute we started off, it started raining, which we're still hearing about a week later.

The tyre race really is good fun. People are very nice to you, they encourage you and clap loudly as you go past, that's nice and motivating when you're having trouble in the slope. And as we'd decided beforehand to take it slowly and try to stay together, we didn't end up at cross purposes like last year when one sprinted ahead with headphones glued to her ears and another lagged behind and walked half the time.

Of course, the sporty girl who hadn't done the tyre practice wasn't fine. She had shunned my "African" sticks - tree branches - in favour of "civilized" broom handles, but they weren't supple at all and stuck out at odd angles. The pot inside the tyre, designed to keep the sticks together, was too small and the sticks kept falling out. Of course, her unsupple sticks made it impossible for her to hold the tyre upright with one hand, so everything fell over when she had a pot problem. And naturally enough, after bending over several times to sort out her pot and sticks, her headdress fell off and we all screeched to a halt in the middle of the final roundabout.

         

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At the finish line, under the rain.