Monday, 27 July 2015

SMIDDY SUPPORTER INTERVIEW - MARK TURNER

Ten years on...
With the tenth anniversary fast approaching since that first Smiddy Challenge event back in 2006, I find myself reflecting a lot these days. Nearly ten years on and Smiling for Smiddy is firmly entrenched into the minds of thousands upon thousands of cyclists, triathletes, swimmers, donors, supporters and sponsors. Smiddy events and all these wonderful caring people have raised close to six million dollars for research at the Mater in this time.

Adam and Maria - Reasons to go on...
While I feel incredibly proud of starting this wonderful event dedicated to Adam Smiddy, not a day goes by that isn't a permanent reminder of my mate losing his brave battle against Melanoma. Now with his beautiful Mother, Maria Smiddy, also passing recently from pancreatic cancer, I have yet another painful memory to add to my repertoire of reasons to be involved with Smiling for Smiddy and the Mater Foundation for the long term until a tangible cure is found. If that means I am a hundred years old before that happens then so be it. At least that is how I am feeling right now...

Doubled edged sword
The thing with losing a mate is that it is a double edged sword; the sharp side of that sword is the losing of someone taken before his time. It cuts deep and stays there no matter how positive you may look from the outside. That cut became a little deeper a few weeks ago... The blunt side of the sword is the nicer part of the weapon; you see, Adam's passing has gifted me with the most incredible people ever to enter my life... Those people, of course include getting to know the Smiddy family as well as I know my own family. Not to mention all the athletes and their families and all our wonderful donors and sponsors; all who believe in the dream we have at Smiddy and the Mater to fund cancer research and to save lives. Which through research is doing just that right here and now thanks to many early warning detection tests developed through research.

Enter one extraordinary man in Mark Turner
For this blog, I thought I might introduce you to one of those incredible people that has entered, not only my life, but the life of Smiling for Smiddy and the Mater. Mark Turner lives in Brisbane and started up his own triathlon training squad called Brisbane Triathlon Squad, which was later changed to Tri Nation. Mark is someone that knows how to pursue a dream on a personal level, but luckily for us, he also shares in the dream that Smiling for Smiddy and the Mater Foundation have in our mission to funding the dollars needed so that our researches can continue on their way to finding a cure for our most common forms of cancer. To date, Mark and his dedicated athletes have been instrumental in helping to raise over $100,000! He is also coaching me in my latest adventure to do Challenge Roth in Germany on July 12 and the Norseman Xtri in Norway August 1st.

Sharky: Mark please tell our readers a little about yourself; how old are you, married, children, sporting background, are you originally from Brisbane and how you got into the role of starting up your own coaching business?

MT: Thanks Sharky, I’m a 44-year-old father of William, 13, and Toby, 10, and live with my long-term partner Suzie in Brisbane. Growing up, my family moved all over Australia but by the time I turned 14 we had settled here in Brisbane. I spent most of my time playing AFL and tennis but started long distance running as a 19-year-old, which is also when I competed in my first triathlon. Some 25 years later my passion for both hasn’t wavered. I loved being active as a child and knew my professional life would somehow involve sport. However after finishing school I was unsure as to where my career was headed so veered away from a path involving university and opted to join the police service.

I was a Physical Education Instructor at the police academy for four years during my time in the Police service, which is when I started to develop a passion for coaching. Fourteen years later I resigned from the service to open and build a swim school. Three to four years of 60+ hour working weeks was a huge learning experience but incredibly enjoyable.

I created Brisbane Triathlon Squad in early 2007 as I’d always loved triathlon, so coaching the sport seemed the next logical step and being able to make a living as a professional coach was always a dream of mine. You’ll never make a million dollars coaching but someone once told me, ”there is a lot of wealth in doing something you love.’ Great advice I’ve always lived by.

Sharky: I know 1990 was the year that tested you physically and emotionally as you had to pull through a very serious injury, one that almost halted your running and triathlons; what happened and did this lead you to triathlon?

MT: When I was a 16-year-old I injured my back playing AFL. It was excruciating and signaled the end of my tennis and football career, not that I was anything outstanding. For the next two years I had periods when the pain was so bad I couldn’t get out of bed. My parents booked me in to see all sorts of health practitioners but no one could tell me what the problem was until we met with an orthopedic surgeon who suspected I had a crack in my vertebrae. I essentially had a broken back and, after two years of searching for an answer, it had become quite bad. The surgeon ordered me to bed for three months.

The surgery technique used in 1989, and the subsequent recovery program or lack of, is unheard of in 2015. These days the surgery is far less painful and patients are moving within 24 hours. Back then it was a four to five hour procedure which involved fusing bone from my hip to the L4/L5 vertebrae in my back. I was then placed in traction for a fortnight in hospital where the nurses had to roll me over to go to the toilet, feed me and keep me sane. It was incredibly painful and without a doubt the longest two weeks of my life. I was then placed in a plaster cast from my chest down to my knees for three months in a Queensland summer. This was to prevent me moving. The theory being that it gave the break in my back the best chance of healing.

When they placed me in the plaster I weighed all of 60kg having lost at least 10kg in the surgery and recovery. I was sweltering in the heat, immobile, had to rely on my parents to wash and feed me, and could hardly eat anything due to the plaster restricting my stomach. I counted the days until the plaster was removed. When it was taken off I was literally all ribs, with more fat under my eyelids than on my stomach. I said to the surgeon, “what do I do now.” He replied, “I don’t care my job is done.” Great bedside manner!

I was incredibly weak and had to use crutches and a walker to get around but at least I was out of the plaster and on the road to recovery. Not knowing what to do I thought swimming and cycling should be fine although I could not swim more than 25 metres or ride around the block without stopping. I did no physiotherapy or specific rehab and, given the surgeon’s lack of care, I wasn’t aware of other options but I spotted an advertisement for a triathlon and decided to train for the event. Twelve weeks after surgery I completed the triathlon at Suttons Beach, Redcliffe and loved it. I had started running only a couple of weeks before the race but I was so just so happy to be moving without pain. I kept doing a few triathlons but running was what really grabbed me and that year I made a state cross country team and competed at the national titles in Tasmania.

Life was good, I was healthy, fit and thinking I might be all right at this caper until the back pain returned. After a visit to the surgeon, and scans, I was on the operating table again and a shattered man. It turns out the fusion was solid but all the wire used to support the fusion was causing some issues. Additionally, I was at a high risk of a disc prolapse due to the fusion. The surgeon’s reply this time after the operation was, “you’ll never run again, just give it up or you’ll end up back here.” This was not an option for me and I decided there must be more I can do. It was then I first started to grasp the importance of core stability, massage, physiotherapy and looking after my back by doing all the little extras. After my second major operation in 12 months, and with the help of a good physio, I did all the rehab, stopped running for 3 months and strengthened my core. This is also when I joined the police service, although I had to convince them my back wasn’t going to be a hindrance. My pre-entry medicals weren’t flattering but my physical fitness testing results got me through.

Because of my back I have never been able to log massive miles in training, have had double hernia and knee surgeries, and suffered multiple soft tissue problems with my hamstrings and calves. I also have a fairly decent scar, get regular massage and physio, and the back stiffens up especially if I sit for too long. But I have been competing in endurance sports for a long time now, and have umpired AFL football at the elite level for 5 years, so I am pretty happy with what I’ve managed to achieve.

Sharky: Mate a good few years after this you were married and had a little boy; are you okay to share with us the trials and tribulations of raising a little fella with a disability, and how you managed to juggle family, work and training commitments without going stir crazy? Was the sport your outlet?

MT: My son William was born in 2001, nine weeks premature. His mother had placenta deficiency, which meant she had to have an emergency caesarean. At birth William weighed 1400grams. For the next few months he didn’t develop like a normal healthy child. When he was six months old he started having seizures, which essentially haven’t stopped since and happen up to 200 times a day. William has never spoken a word, can’t feed himself, is on a cocktail of anti-epileptic drugs, is not toilet trained and requires full-time care. There have been surgeries, numerous extended hospital visits, a couple of very close calls and not a day goes by that I don’t wish it were different. William’s illness is incredibly stressful and puts so much strain on relationships and life. My youngest son Toby is also greatly affected, as we have had to invest so much attention in William. For all Toby’s been through he’s a great young kid however I worry about him every day and hope he won’t be too affected by it all.

I have lost count of the number of times I have cried, sworn, yelled and been pissed off at the universe. There is no greater pain than seeing your child seizure and watching him deteriorate. The condition is literally killing him and at times it breaks you down at every level. The definition of hell is watching William seizure, and then see a tear run down his cheek, knowing he can’t tell you what is wrong. If you have a healthy child or children you are so lucky.

Training, racing and coaching have always been my coping mechanism. Coaching, especially, in that my focus becomes helping others while my own training and racing is more of an outlet for emotions. At times I am far from my best but without it I would not have coped. However, I have come to realise that I need more than training and racing to get by. Thanks to some counseling, a greater understanding of when I need downtime, and the support of some very close people in my life, I am generally coping better now than in the past. There were times when I did not think I would make it through the end of the day. Curling up in the corner crying and not knowing a way out was an all too often occurrence for a number of years.

Sport, over the last 13 years since William was born, has literally saved my life.

Sharky: Can you please enlighten our readers as to how you came to be involved with Smiling for Smiddy. I hear that my co-founder of Smiddy, Rowan Foster and a chance meeting in an elevator at the Mater Private Hospital may be the reason?

MT: One of our long time squad members and good friend Paul Scroggie was at the Mater Hospital while his wife Trish was undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Rowan walked into the elevator and noticed the shaved legs. Rowan, being Rowan, said you have to be a triathlete with those legs. Anyone who knows Paul also knows he loves a chat so the pair quickly got talking and Paul suggested Rowan make contact with me as he felt our squad would love to support Smiddy. I met with Rowan and the rest is history.

Sharky: From that first up meeting, to a year later and close to $100,000 was raised; please share with us how this came about and why you jumped on board?

MT: We have a responsibility to give back to those less fortunate. As healthy people, triathletes are very lucky. I have been involved in different charity fundraising events since I first started in the sport. Rallying for a common cause via a challenging physical event is a great formula to raise money and awareness. Squad member Claire Schneider completed the Challenge the same year I met Rowan, the squad got on board and $100,000 was raised. There were some key people, including Claire, who really drove the campaign and created a snowball effect. Hopefully this is just the start of big things for the squad and Smiddy.

Sharky: What I found amazing about your Smiddy journey was that you helped to raise all that money before you had even done a Smiddy event. Then in 2014 it happened and you did the big 1600 kilometre Smiddy Challenge ride from Brisbane to Townsville. Please share with us how this experience affected you?

MT: The Challenge ride to Townsville, essentially eight days of cycling with 50 strangers, was life changing. Sharing my story with a local community was extremely powerful. I am an emotional person, especially when it comes to talking about William, so telling his story and how it has impacted our family was hard but the support and care the Smiddy group showed me is something I will never forget. Listening to other riders share their stories also reminded me how we have a responsibility to support those less fortunate.

Sharky: Okay so you finally got around to fulfilling your dream to complete your first Ironman. Please share with us your personal best times for Olympic, half and full distance Ironman events?

MT: I have never felt that I have that much talent. I have had some satisfactory running and short course triathlon results over the years but I’m still searching for the long course finish I know I’m capable of achieving. I did my first Ironman in 2006 at Port Macquarie, a year after I retired from being an AFL Boundary umpire. It wasn’t a great day out with some poor nutritional choices contributing to vomiting on the bike and the run. In 2008 I completed three Ironman's in three days for charity, finished Ironman New Zealand 2010 in the back of an ambulance, and multiple punctures on the bike ruined my Ironman Western Australia 2012 and Ironman Japan 2013 efforts. Finally, this year, I enjoyed an incident free Ironman race at Cairns with a 10.10 finish off the back of 11-hour training weeks.

I have achieved a 2.01 Olympic distance time and placed top ten in my age group at the Gold Coast World champs in 2009 over the sprint distance. Over the half distance I have recorded a 4.28 but want to beat that time this year in an attempt to qualify for the 2016 70.3 Worlds at Mooloolaba. I prefer the short, fast sprint races to the longer events but, like many others, would love to jag a Kona spot. I was close at Cairns without really focusing on it so I am confident maybe next year I could race 70.3 Worlds followed by Kona. I’ll need to increase the training hours but I don’t have too much more spare time so it’ll be matter of continuing what I am doing and seeing how it plays out on the day.

Sharky: Okay Mark, someone out there is reading this that either wants to do a triathlon or to do a Smiddy event but they lack the confidence to take that first step. What would your words be to those people?

MT: Don’t let fear hold you back. Fear often stops people having a go. The only way to develop confidence is familiarity so you need to get out of your comfort zone and have a go. It is a cliché but you only get to know yourself when you are outside your comfort zone. As a coach, it goes without saying I think you should use the services of a professional to help you achieve your goals. With some consistent training and guidance anyone is capable of finishing a triathlon or Smiddy event.

Sharky: How do you get your athletes excited about fundraising for Smiddy, as every year our events always have a sprinkling of athletes from your triathlon squad?

MT: Sharing my story helps but so too does the little things like printing the Smiddy logo on our squad uniforms so our members know we support the charity. Claire’s involvement in Challenge, interest from other squad members, and regular fundraising means the Smiddy message is continually being shared. Hopefully our athletes will always be involved with Smiddy events.

Sharky: Mark about four months ago you took on a different role as a General manager at Healthstream in Queensland. How are you balancing out this full time role with your coaching responsibilities?

MT: It’s hard mate, I have to admit, but the opportunity to take on this role was too good to knock back. I am very passionate about getting people to exercise and enjoy the benefits of being fit and healthy. Taking on the position at Healthstream was another way to do that. The Healthstream facilities at Gardens Point and Kelvin Grove are first class and we also manage another facility at Newstead. Professionally it is testing as I have been out of the corporate workforce for ten + years, but it’s exciting to be laying the platform for a positive future for Healthstream in Queensland. I still coach in the mornings, and some evenings, and manage to squeeze in a quick session myself before suiting up for the day. My focus is on the role I’m doing at a particular point of time, and doing that to the best of my ability.

Sharky: Okay you and I both love motivating people into action to look after themselves through sport and healthy eating and lifestyle choices. Also to appreciate how lucky we are, and if along the way, we can help out others less fortunate, then it has been a win for all involved. Do you see Healthstream being involved in the future with Smiddy and the Mater?

MT: Absolutely. Healthstream’s new junior swim club will be supporting Smiddy through fundraising events and we are also looking at hosting some endurance events. A few years ago we ran a 24 hour charity triathlon at Kawana. Due to the challenges of closing a public road for a long period of time we were forced to stop running the event, which is a shame because it was a lot of fun. However, I am looking into organising a 24 hour indoor triathlon at Healthstream, which would be a Smiddy fundraiser. I am just about there in terms of being able to get the event off the ground.

Sharky: Mark before we go please share one thing with us that may came as a surprise to someone that is reading this that knows you?

MT: I have a shocking chocolate habit!

Sharky: Mark thank you so much for taking the time out to give our readers an insight into your very active and busy life. Any final words of advice for people out there wishing to get onboard as an athlete or as a fundraiser for Smiddy and The Mater Foundation?

MT: It’s a pleasure. I think what you do personally for Smiddy and your own story is very inspiring. So to be part of that is a privilege and I know when others get involved they will get so much out of it. The events and the experiences are great but more importantly you’ll meet some wonderful people and make some new lasting friendships.

If you wish to know more about Healthstream, Tri Nation, Smiling for Smiddy or the Mater Foundation please click on any of their links below.

Cheers.

Sharky.

Mater Foundation www.materfoundation.com.au
Smiling for Smiddy: www.smiddy.org.au
Tri Nation: www.tri-nation.net
Healthstream: www.healthstreamqut.com.au/

Sunday, 21 June 2015

REGIONAL SUPPORTERS THANK YOU TOUR

This year 2015, a huge and most welcoming milestone will be reached with the tenth edition of the Smiling for Smiddy Challenge completing its long and arduous journey to Townsville on September 5.

Back in September of 2006, when Ron, Oliver Bodak and myself, burdened with uncomfortable fitting backpacks due to the absence of a road crew, pushed off from the University of Qld Aquatic Centre into an unknown 1500 kilometre seven day journey, we had no inkling that nine year's on we would be celebrating the tenth edition of that first epic ride.

From a respectable $24,000 raised in that first year, to an insane total of $6 million now raised for research at Mater, it has been one hell of a happy but sad journey for everyone involved. We have laughed until we've cried and cried until the tears would no longer come. So many good memories borne from good people coming together for a common cause, and along the way the sad times continue to creep into our lives due to the lives lost of those we love.

Smiling for Smiddy started due to losing our mate Adam Smiddy, now nine years on and his beautiful, bubbly, positive Mother, Maria Smiddy has just succumbed to her fight with Pancreatic Cancer. Two Smiddy's lost from the same family. The news rocked us all to our very core and the wounds have been opened afresh. While we will all miss Maria terribly, as we have Adam, the goal remains the same; Smiling for Smiddy events, along with the amazing support of the Mater Foundation, will continue to raise money for research and reach out to those less fortunate and keep providing hope to those inflicted with this insidious disease. This is what Maria would have wanted and it is what Maria will get!

So as part of our ten year celebration of the Smiddy Challenge it was decided at Smiddy and Mater Central that a regional trip, this time by car, was on the cards to thank the people that have made the Challenge event possible. So last Monday, Wendy Muir (our new Smiddy team member) and I, spent five days visiting all our regional ambassadors throughout Nanango, Eisdvold, Biloela, Blackwater, Clermont, Belyando Crossing, Charters Towers and finally Townsville. For the riders and road crew of this year's event they are in for an absolute treat. Every town and person that we visited on this trip are extremely excited and very much looking forward to the teams arrival.

On that note I welcome you to join in the journey of human kindness that Wendy and I just experienced this week by enjoying a snap shot of some of those special moments and people via the photos below, who without their ongoing support, there would be no Smiling for Smiddy.

Cheers,

Sharky

Steel,

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

MARIA SMIDDY - A SPECIAL SERVICE


It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I acknowledge the passing of our beloved matriarch, Maria Smiddy.

Maria's battle with an aggressive cancer, her unflinching courage, character, beautiful smile and selfless nature during this time, will strengthen our resolve to continue to fund critical cancer research and patient care. We'll continue to do this in the name of Maria's son, Adam, and all our loved ones lost to, or affected by cancer.

A private funeral was held for Maria in New Zealand and her ashes are being brought back to Australia to be placed next to her son Adam at Home Hill cemetery.

The Smiddy family, including Maria’s husband David and son Paul, invite you to a special service to celebrate Maria’s life:

Friday 12 June at 1.30pm
Brisbane City Hall
King George Square

As a valued member of the Smiling for Smiddy community we welcome your attendance to pay your respects and celebrate the life of this incredible woman we were all blessed to know.

No RSVP is necessary but should you have any questions about the service please contact the Smiling for Smiddy team on 07 3163 8000 or info@smiddy.org.au.

Maria is greatly loved and will be sorely missed but not forgotten. Friday's service is an opportunity for us all to support David and Paul, and their entire family, and to celebrate the impact Maria had on our lives.

I truly hope to see you this Friday.

Regards,

Mark ‘Sharky’ Smoothy

Sunday, 24 May 2015

2015 MIDI SMIDDY - WARWICK TO BRISBANE - DAY 3

Distance:217 km's
Average: 27.2 km/h
Climbing: 1791 metres
Descending: 2220 metres
Riding time: 7hr 57min
Temp Min: 3 degrees, our warmest start ever out of Warwick.
Temp Max: 24 degrees

The morning started perfectly with riders and road crew emerging from their swags to home made porridge and pancakes for breakfast. For most of the riders and road crew it was the first time sleeping in a swag and even though we slept indoors in the Warwick Redback AFL club rooms it was a great experience. Noise cancelling headphones are a great invention and my only complaint was the pillow but that can be easily fixed. The youngest member of the road crew, Jack Geeves, proved to be an expert swag roller-upper and not even Kevie could find a fault with his work.

Day 3 of the Midi Smiddy was meant to be another day of brutal head winds and freezing cold weather because Geevesy said so then he realised he was looking at the Gold Coast marine forecast. Thanks Geevesy! Instead the riders had a perfect day of riding with clear blue skies and the occasional breeze. At every stop they had to take another layer off as it got warmer and warmer. To quote Krista "the riders had a sprinkle of speedy" today as the road crew had to race to keep ahead of them and have the next food stop ready in time. There were plenty of smiles as they pulled in to more home bake and the famous Smiddy sandwiches.

The previous night we had celebrated Lydia's 18th birthday with cake, candles and a loud rendition of happy birthday. Today was Chris 'pretty boy' Holmes birthday but he had to make do with left over cake with with pink icing. Sorry Chris!

Midi Smiddy is Lucy Bird's first Smiddy event and the longest cycle she had ever attempted. Lucy proved to be strong and determined on the bike and equally with fundraising. By Saturday she had raised over $7,000 for cancer research and rode all 3 days regardless of how much it hurt. Lucy was awarded the very special Smiddy Spirit jersey and is one of the select few who wore this jersey home on the last day.

All the riders proved themselves to be true Smiddy family members by smiling through 2 tough days on the bike and supporting one another all the way. There are many potential Challenge riders in this peloton who feel ready to step up and take on the ultimate Smiddy event riding from Brisbane to Townsville. I believe they have qualified and are ready to do this incredible event so I look forward to seeing them there in 2016!

Day 3 finished with a wonderful welcome at UQ Aquatic centre with all the riders' family members turning up to see them arrive as well as many previous Smiddy riders. There were banners, flowers, champagne and tears for many and a great BBQ by the Lions Club. Sharky and his lovely wife Alyssa were there to welcome everyone home. The final huddle was huge with absolutely everyone joining in.

It was a wonderful end to 3 days of fun, friendship, head winds, long days on the bike, fantastic food and great times.

Sharky's temporary replacement is signing off and expect Sharky back for the Challenge event in September.

Cherie

Saturday, 23 May 2015

2015 MIDI SMIDDY - DAY 2 TOOWOOMBA TO WARWICK - DEDICATION TO MARIA SMIDDY

Distance:157km's
Average: 24.7km/h
Climbing: 1017 metres
Desending: 1207 metres
Riding time: 6:07:00
Temp Min: 7 degrees
Temp Max: 24 degrees
Wind: Plenty of it either in our face or on the nose


It was another brutal day on the bike with head winds, fog and more hills. This morning we received some news that affected many of the long term Smiddy riders. As a group we all wanted to be there for them and support each another through an especially tough day.

Today's blog is a bit different because we all want to share our Smiddy experiences and reach out to the Smiddy family. Today it's not one voice that counts but all of us as a group, as a family and as a bunch of mates.

Geevesy
For my time in the Smiddy family, since 2008, it’s just been about putting something back. We know that there are people that survive cancer now, that didn’t a decade ago. The $7 million in funds we’ve raised in the past nine years have contributed to that. Pure and simple, no arguments. On Midi-Smiddy this year, there are a bunch of 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th timers…that’s the spirit of the Smiddy family. There’s a connection between those two things, pure and simple, no arguments.
I want our collective thoughts in this blog to reflect a message to David, that no matter how much pain he’s experiencing, that Adam and Maria’s legacy will live on, through the work we do and the ever increasing group pf people that subscribe to our need to make a difference.

Jack Geeves
I started out in the Smiddy family at the tender age of just 8 years old, when dad left for his first 8 day, the only part I knew was he was going to be gone for a week and he was going up. Now 8 years on, I’m still here and I know a lot more about what this ride is all about, I’ve watched it change from 15 mates heading up to Townsville on push bikes to 50 people riding around the countryside.
Now as I look across the room everybody head down staring at their phones contemplating why they’re here, thinking about the reasons they are here and what contribution they’ve made so far and what they can do in the future to keep this ride enduring long into the future and continue the great work that started when Mark rode up to Townville with a backpack and credit card.

Robbie (Right Brake) Lever
My reason for joining the Smiddy family was because I really admired how Sharky started the Smiddy ride in memory of Adam. I now want to acknowledge Maria and what she means to the Smiddy extended family. Over the past 10 years Sharky has been able to keep Adams memory alive and vibrant. I now want to do this for Maria’s memory and for David to know this.

Christian Killer Killeen
Good friends of mine had done the ride in 2007 and I’d heard all the stories about the ride but also about Adams battle with cancer 12 months earlier although I’d never met Adam. The thought of riding 1600 kms over 8 days sounded like a great holiday for me.
But once I’d done the ride it triggered something in side of me. I knew that I had to do it again and do it for the right reasons. While I have been fortunate with cancer and my family this scares the hell out of me. For that reason I want to ‘Pay it forward’. I want to do something before cancer does affect my family.
Now each year I ride to pay it forward, but also because I know it makes me a better person. I come back with a renewed passion, and sense of inner peace. To have the chance to ride 8 days with so many people all sharing the passion and desire to make a difference.

Ronnie Steel
The first ride I did with Sharky after Adam died we got to Home Hill and Maria asked David to make a speech. He wouldn’t so Maria made the speech instead and she spoke about Sharky and Ollie. She said Ronnie had never met Adam but was there supporting Sharky. That was what Smiddy is all about – supporting mates. It bought me to tears.

Liesa Hogg
At 37 and a mother of two beautiful daughters 8 and 10 I have seen family members and friends battle cancer, young and older and this has made me think more and more about what if I get sick, what if my kids get sick, what if my daughters have kids and get sick and knew I had to do something to contribute and teach my kids to give, encourage others to give and put in the effort and get involved. They have watched me train and they will be at the finish line and they have learned some very valuable lessons, as have I.

Sean Lever
6 years into my Smiddy journey. Inspired by Sharky to get involved in Tri’s with Purpose. Inspired by the Smiddy story from the get go. Smiddy has brought my wife Robyn and I closer together and through our fund raising efforts each year has brought the Caloundra community together. They are inspired. MY Dads battle with Battle Cancer started 6 years ago, he inspires me each day the ride gets tough. Smdidy will be a part of family for as long as we are able.

Michael Brady
Today was a tough day, I feel tougher than yesterday, but I got to witness some amazing riders soldier through their own emotional battles to physically help other riders. This embodies the Smiddy spirit and something I’m proud to have been apart of for four years. If me punishing myself on a bike can help someone I don’t know, nor will I ever know how, with their treatment or care, then I’ll go out and ride again.
I have the utmost respect for my extended Smiddy family and am so proud to be part of this family.

Barry Hume
This is my second Smiddy event, my third is later this year. A challenging, thought provoking experience that reminds me of my great friends and family that have been taken too soon. Training and taking part often feels like a sporting event, but its deeper than that. David, my thoughts are with you and your family.

Lucy Bird
Why I did Smiddy:
The Smiddy family is amazing, Unique. I first signed up for this ride as a personal challenge, a physical one. Deep down I always knew it would change my life though. It no longer is a personal achievement, but a collective one. And that is life. Together, as a group, we can achieve huge things. Smiddy will continue to do huge things. For a long time. Thank you x

Paul Craig
Way I have started riding and fund raising money for smile for smiddy. My Mum passed away from cancer when I was 14 and I have lost three other family members to cancer.And when my work mate said he was riding for smiddy I asked him about it and I was hooked. I would love it that if one kid not to lost his Mum to cancer then it's the least I could do is ride some km and raise some money.
Barry Waters
Why I wanted to support and fundraise for Smiling for Smiddy? Assist the research team at Mater in curing Cancer. Why cancer? Throughout my many years in retail and within my own personal family I have supported many with their fight against this exhausting and terriable disease. Some with great success, others loosing their battle / fighting to stay with their loved ones.
3 words tie Smiddy to A.N.Z.A.C. with what I have enormous pride and admiration for.
Courage,
Endurance,
Mateship.

Chris Holmes
The reason I joined the Smiddy family 2 years ago on the Midi was to originally combine my love of cycling with a great charity and try and make a positive impact on the lives of others. I have not experienced the of cancer in my imediate family but have witnessed its devastating effects on my extended family as well as friends and colleagues. The comraderie and friends made on my first trip was a driving force for me signing up this year and for a future rides.

Louise De Costa
If the ride home tomorrow from Warrick to Brisbane is anything like today....I'm pulling a sickie!!
Today's ride from Toowoomba to Warrick was 160km of full on headwind with moments where we were given a reprieve only to turn a corner to the full on force of the wind. I actually enjoyed the first 100km. The last 60km for me called upon all the grit and sheer determination to finish. And yet again I knew my pain would end at our destination.

Today has been a very day sad for the Smiddy family. Maria Smiddy, the mother of Adam Smiddy, who was the young man of 26 years who died of an aggressive melanoma, that this foundation was set up to honour and help raise funds for cancer research died of Pancreatic cancer. My deepest condolences to Maria's family and friends.

It is for the Smiddy Family and all cancer suffers that we as individuals and as a group endure the pain that we do at different times during the ride. It is during those hard times when some of us have nothing left in the tank that we are surrounded by kind souls who are often as exhausted as we are who push you along the road. We are all here for each other.

We can't achieve what we do in life alone and it is especially true when a terrible disease like cancer strikes that we need the love and support of everyone around us.

Every dollar that is raised for cancer research may be the dollar that offers a cure or supportive services to you or your loved ones.

Tonight our hearts go out to David Smiddy, his family and his dearest friends. Tomorrow David no matter what Mother Nature delivers us we will ride with both Adam and Maria on our hearts.

Brock Yates
Today was an inspirational day in the Midi Smiddy peloton. The unfortunate news of Mrs Smiddys passing bought out the best in the group. Jarod Covey shepparded his Smiddy flock all day ensuring no one was left behind.
I worked with Adam at the PA for a short time and I only met Maria once. They were great people and left an impression on me. A lasting impression. An impression that has inspired me and my family to be a Smiddy family. RIP Maria and Adam.

Keith Hungerford
I lost a good friend in high school and a grandfather to cancer and have seen friends suffer through treatments for the disease. Smiddy means great mates getting out there working hard and doing something awesome for society and fighting against a common foe.

Anthony Woodbury
My Smiddy adventure started out as just a good reason to go for a ride, I would get a day off work by riding for a good cause. I have lost some family friends to cancer and couldn’t think of a better reason to go for a ride. But since I attended the orientation night and the first training ride, being part of Smiling for Smiddy has become more than just going for a ride, seeing how the riders and road crew look after each other is awesome and I feel very privaliged to part of such an amazing and genuine group and I can’t wait to do it all again next year.

Kevvy
Today was a difficult day out on the road for our cyclists, because of the wind. However due to the conditions quite a number of the riders sought refuge in the sag wagon. This gave me a chance to reflect on my past nine years of involvement with Smiddy events and I was able to share with them the experiences that I’ve spent with Maria and David. My thoughts and prayers are with David and the extended family.

Melissa Crossman
Every person in the Smiddy peloton comes from a place called Super Amazing Awesomeland. We each have our own reasons for being here but out on the road in the worst possible conditions the spirit and camaraderie come together to produce something awesome. These are the people that keep these rides going and keep me coming back. I wish this could be bottled and hand delivered to every cancer sufferer and their loved ones to help get them through. But even better than this is that the net result of partaking in a Smiddy ride is contributing to a future where cancer doesn't exist and who wouldn't want to experience that!

Friday, 22 May 2015

2015 MIDI SMIDDY - DAY 1 BRISBANE TO TOOWOOMBA

Stats for the day:
Distance:195.5km
Avr Speed: 22.1kph
Total time: 11hrs 20min
Riding time: 8hrs 52min
Max speed: 62km
Metres climbed: 2200
Calories burned: 5230
Road kill - 2x Roos/Wallabies, 2 x birds (pheasant and a hawk), 2 x bag of bones, 2 x foxes, 2 x rabbits, 1 x stuffed toy (not the Shark), 1 x sparrow.

Shark out / Cherie in!
In 10 years of Smiddy Sharky has never missed a single ride. This years Midi Smiddy is the first time he has stayed in Brisbane and I know he is devastated. But under Doctors and his Physios orders Sharky had to make the horrible decision to stay behind.

That leaves me, the new member of the team to tell it like it is and write Sharky's blog. Well here goes....

Headwinds Battle type of day
Sharky would have many words to describe day 1 of Midi Smiddy but I only have one - Brutal! As a member of the road crew today I watched in awe as the Smiddy peloton tackled a brutal headwind for most of the 194km from Brisbane to Toowoomba. It was relentless and as Lucy described there were no downhills today only a constant battle to keep moving forward. In true Smiddy spirit they worked together and stayed focused to survive a day that will never be forgotten.

Road crew shortcuts
But enough about the riders as the road crew have a few stories to tell as well. Officially we did not get lost but because of a city girl navigator (me) we did have to make 6 u turns between lunch and afternoon tea. However we did get to see a lot more of the beautiful country side than I'm sure any other Midi road crew have. It is stunning scenery!

UQ send off and a mysterious tale of blood
We started the morning with a fantastic BBQ breakfast at UQ kindly hosted by Jae and his team. There was a small mishap when a certain rider cut his finger on the BBQ and needed the first aid kit. How he cut his finger when he wasn't cooking and all he had to do was tell the cook if he wanted bacon with his eggs is a mystery.

Stuffed Shark!
We didn't have Sharky the man with us today but we did have Shark the cuddly one instead who got to ride with Kevie all day. Cuddly Shark came out at afternoon tea to spur the riders on for the final 19km and big, very big climb to Toowoomba. It must have worked because all the riders except 2 set out to finish the day and push through to the very end. I haven't heard from Kevie how the climb went but I'm sure they all gave it everything they had.

Final words by Cherie
Their reward at the end was a freezing cold Toowoomba welcome made more inviting by hot soup cooked up by the wonderful Wendy.

A special mention to Lydia, our youngest rider, who finished her longest ride today

Request from the riders - I must mention Alyssa and how beautiful she is! There you go Sharky.

The weather forecast for tomorrow - cold and windy. Yah.

Thank you to the riders, road crew and all the supporters of this years Midi Smiddy. Wishing you a speedy recovery Sharky! This blogging business is a lot harder than it looks.

Signing off from Toowoomba.

Cherie.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

2015 MIDI SMIDDY - SIX YEARS AND COUNTING!


The Midi is upon us
If you are reading this then it can only mean one thing... Another Smiddy event must be imminent? And that event would be the sixth running of the annual Midi Smiddy. A journey where the riders and road crew will leave the UQ Aquatic Centre tomorrow morning at 6am and end up in Toowoomba, some 200 lumpy kilometres away. Then on Saturday a leisurely ride through some lovely country towns such as Pittsworth and Allora to get to Warwick some 165 kilometres away. After a night of sleeping beneath the stars in swags the peloton will ride back to Brisbane, an impressive 220 kilmetres. All up a grueling 585 kilometres of riding in just three days, and all in the name of raising funds for research at the Mater.

Shark is out!
Now this will be my only blog for this journey as I am handing over the blog responsibility to our new Smiddy leader in Cherie Nicolas. Cherie joined the team a few months ago and is already making a positive impact on the team and the events and we are very proud to welcome Cherie into the Smiddy and Mater families. You see, for this Shark, I am to miss my very first event in ten years of Smiddy events due to an injury that has me watching from the sidelines. Last weekend an old disc injury that I have in my lower back flared up, and not only can I not ride a bike, but I am unable to sit, so I cant even join in as a road crew member. I am gutted, but going against the Physio's advice suggests that to even try would be just plain stupid. Stupid I am good at! But with age does come the occasional wisp of rationality. If I'm good now I get to play later...

I know Cherie will do a great job delivering to our faithful readers of this blog the happenings of the next three days on the road. So please make Cherie feel welcome and from me a heartfelt thank you for your many years of support in following the Smiddy journey through my words.

Riders and road crew
To the riders and road crew I will so miss your incredible company and wish you all the very best for what I know will be a most rewarding Smiddy experience that will stay with you for many years to come. My thoughts go out to each and every one of the riders but you are on your own when it comes time to ascend that bloody Flagstone Creek climb up to Toowoomba after 190 kilometres!

To the Smiddy family
My thoughts go out to the entire Smiddy family, who are fighting their own epic battle as we speak. I love the Smiddy family more than mere words can ever express and their battle now just strengthens my desire within to continue what Smiddy and the Mater do best; raise funds and awareness and inspire ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things.

Take care.

Sharky