Raising cash and spirits as Warrnambool's Relay for Life grows 

DEAKIN University’s Warrnambool oval was a sea of moving purple last night as about 1200 people notched up their circuits at the start of the 18-hour Warrnambool and District Relay for Life.

Team members this year faced not only the challenge of fatigue but expected high temperatures today.

Organisers said they had a heat management plan in place for the event, which runs until 1pm.

They said some activities would be modified if the temperatures goes beyond the forecast high of 35 degrees.

Event chairwoman Fran Hynes said the event was enjoying growing support with 52 teams registered, five more than last year.

Ms Hynes said there were many new teams involved and all four Warrnambool secondary schools were participating.

She said the annual Warrnambool fund-raiser had generated about $1.5 million for the Cancer Council during the 12 years it had been running. A focus of the event is an emotional ceremony at 9pm during which people light candles to remember loved ones who had died from cancer, and to support those having treatment or who had completed it. However,  the relay also balances the solemnity with an upbeat celebration of life.

Many teams took up this year’s circus theme for the relay, wearing clown and animal costumes and colourful afro wigs.

The light-hearted activities for the night included a 12-hour challenge from 10pm-10am, during which organisers — on the hour, every hour — gave a member from each team a task such as juggling or answering questions about how to reduce the risk of cancer.

Musicians, acrobats and a magician were among the performers keeping walkers entertained as they did their numerous rounds of the oval circuit.

Ms Hynes said the event did more than raise money.

“People find it very therapeutic,” Ms Hynes said.

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