Thursday, 17 December 2015
IT'S A WRAP - SMIDDY 2015 - A SHARKY PERSPECTIVE
WOW, what a year! In 2015, so many incredible highs, which saw 485 Smiddy cyclists, triathletes and swimmers, participate in one of our 7 events. They not only rode/swum and run 157,297km, but also raised close to $1 million dollars for Mater Research.
To these amazing Smiddy participants, your families, supporters and donors, I would like to say to you: On behalf of the entire team at Smiling for Smiddy, you should feel incredibly proud of this achievement. Each year the Mater Foundation and Smiling for Smiddy events continually go from strength to strength, and this would not be possible without you amazing people entering our lives. We are humbled by your caring nature and your generosity and we truly recognise that without you we would not be saving lives through research. A heartfelt thank you to all involved.
Once again the team at Smiddy delivered another stellar year of events that tested you physically and mentally and you all delivered in a most altruistic manner.
· The year began with the inaugural New Zealand 5 day 700kmSmiddy Challenge in March, where 24 riders rode through some of the most stunning scenery known to man and along the way raised an amazing sum of $89,545.We were extremely happy to share the last day with Maria and David Smiddy, who lived in Auckland and flew in to surprise the riders.
· Then in April, the fourth edition of the 4 day 600km Noosa Smiddy and 38 riders enjoyed the company of the great Phil Anderson, who was the first Aussie and non-European cyclist to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour De France in 1981. Together they raised a grand total of $99,571.
· Next was the sixth running of the tough 3 day 560km Midi Smiddy in May and a small piece of history unraveled, when for the first time in nine years of Smiddy events, I was forced out due to a slipped disc in my lower back. Ironically that same weekend was when we lost our beloved matriarch in Maria Smiddy to cancer. The 33 riders bravely fought on and finished one of the most emotional and saddest Smiddy events ever. Along the way raising a great amount of $44,765.
· Now in July, while I was enjoying my 5 week honeymoon in Europe with my brand-spanking and sparkly new Wife in Alyssa Coe, the annual Warwick training weekend over 400km was taking place. 36 of the 50 registered Challenge riders that were doing the Challenge event in September stepped up to test their fitness, with most passing with flying colours.
· A week before the Challenge event began and we were all back at UQ Aquatic Centre for the fourth running of the 10km Swim Challenge. 48 Smiddy swimmers slogged out 100X100m efforts over 3 hours and raised a fantastic amount of $23,848
· Then the big one in September, the 10th anniversary running of the 8 day Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge from Brisbane to Townsville that attracted 57 riders and raised a staggering amount of $332,880. For the first time since 2006 the 3 original riders in myself, Ron Steel and Oliver Bodak were reunited for this event. I was extremely proud to complete my 10th consecutive ride to Townsville and can confidently say to you that I now know the way!
· September, November and December were our triathlon months where 320 Smiddy triathletes raced and represented Smiddy at the Mooloolaba 70.3, Noosa Triathlon and the Busselton Ironman. Together an unbelievable amount of $352,047 was raised!
The New Smiddy Team
Nothing ever stays the same and each year the onward march of in and out Smiddy staff continues. Now this is never a bad thing; you see, while I miss the people that leave, new people bring with them new ideas and renewed passion, not to mention an untapped energy, that if fully unleashed, would make up for the Aussie budget deficit.
So in December 2014, when we lost the great Matt Marshall, who hung up his Smiddy boots to become a full-time Dad after a record breaking and passionate stellar year as the manager of Smiddy, we were on our own for a while. Then in Mid-March, Anna Tate, the most passionate lady I have ever met when it comes to throwing her life-force into her job, moved on to go back to University to complete her Masters. Smiddy was then down to Christian Killeen and myself. Then along came a breath of fresh air in rapid succession, I like to call them my March Smiddy Saviour Ladies!
Ø First Wendy Muir graced us with her presence; Wendy had worked with the Mater Foundation already for over 3 years but in another team. It was after volunteering for a week of the Smiddy Melbourne to Brisbane Final leg Challenge that Smiddy won her heart and she put her hand up to be transferred to Smiddy. Her wish was granted in March 2015.
Ø On that very same day Cherie Nicholas began as our new leader of Smiddy. A young lady that originated from New Zealand in 2006, a keen cyclist who has dabbled in a few triathlons. Cherie brings with her many years of experience in fundraising, with her last position being at RedKite. Most importantly, Cherie knew of Smiddy extensively before applying for the job and has come to live and breathe and add to the energy that Smiddy creates.
Ø Just one week later one of the fittest ladies on this planet answered our call for a part time position at Smiddy. Krista Page completed her first Smiddy Challenge event in 2014 as a rider and again this year but this time working with Smiddy. Her passion was evident right from the start as she threw herself headfirst into Smiling for Smiddy. Her energy and beautiful friendly nature caught the attention of the powers that be at the Mater and in June Krista came onboard fulltime and we couldn’t have been happier.
So now Christian and I are no longer lonely and we both know how fortunate we are to be surrounded by 3 such lovely, hardworking and passionate females. Smiddy has always been in good shape no matter who we have had in the past, but our latest team, like I said before, bring with them renewed energy, passion and ideas that we welcome with open arms.
Maria Smiddy Lost But Definitely Not Forgotten!
Like any year being aboard the Smiddy freight train express, for every high there is always a low and 2015 was no different. Each year cancer continues to touch those that we love dearly. May 23 2015 was the day I got that dreaded phone call from David Smiddy, sharing the gut-wrenching and painful news, that his beloved wife Maria, had finally succumbed to her short battle against pancreatic cancer.
Losing Maria was like losing a Mum, she was a Mum to each and every Smiddy rider or triathlete that she came in contact with. The thing I missed most this year, amongst many other past ‘Maria Moments’ was her incredible hugs. Those hugs that picked you up when you were down, and those hugs that you shared the many moments of joy with, that only a Smiddy endurance event can garner. In a Maria embrace you felt her love. She was one of 'The Most' genuine people I have ever had the pleasure of spending time with and calling a good friend.
Back in 2006 I saw what my mate Adam Smiddy went through with his Melanoma. His strength and courage just blew me away. Never did he want anything but your friendship and positive outlook on life. With Maria I saw the exact same thing and I now fully understand where Adam got his strength from.
Maria often said to me at the completion of many Smiddy events. "Sharky don’t waste a single minute of your life and always tell those closest to you how much you love them." Of course this always came with a Maria embrace.
I know Maria thought the world of the Mater Foundation and of course everyone involved in our Smiling for Smiddy events. Just like David Smiddy, Maria was always in awe of how from one small event that attracted just 3 riders in 2006, to now, where thousands of individuals have participated and helped to raise close to $7 million dollars for research. David Smiddy, at the recent Noosa Triathlon turned to me and said with a cheeky but proud grin on his face;
"Why are all these people running around with my name on their shirts?" David of course was only joking, but I know that Smiddy events helped the Smiddy family through their darkest of days when they lost their son in 2006, and that same magic Smiddy spirit that encapsulates what all our events are about, is now helping David and the Smiddy family to stay strong and focused on the job at hand.
Maria wants us to continue, to keep forging paths ahead for those less fortunate. "Sharky" she said to me once during one of our heart to heart talks; "Never underestimate what you guys are doing for those that need it; without Smiddy events, without the Mater Foundation and without all those amazing Smiddy athletes that care enough to do something for those that need it, us cancer sufferers would lose all hope."
So with Maria and David's blessing, along with their permission for Smiddy events to continue for another year (by tradition I have always asked their permission on the final night of the Challenge ride in Townsville) and with the Mater Foundation’s backing and belief in us, Smiddy events will continue to provide hope for those that need it the most.
To everyone that has been involved with Smiling for Smiddy from 2006 right up to the present day, if you are reading this, you should be extremely proud of your actions. I know Maria thought the world of you, for she told me often. As for David Smiddy, well that cheeky grin isn’t going away anytime soon. His courage was mind-boggling this year after what he has been through losing Maria in May. To see David pull himself through one of the most painful Smiddy Challenge events, the first one without his wife by his side, is testament that this great man believes, with all his heart and soul, the long term research objectives through that the Mater and Smiddy are trying to achieve.
So on that note, on behalf of all the team at Smiling for Smiddy, please know that we were humbled by what you did for Smiddy across all our events in 2015. We hold you all in the highest esteem and welcome you back into the Smiddy peloton whenever you decide to join us again.
Before I go here is a snapshot of another exciting year ahead for Smiling for Smiddy and for everyone that makes the decision to come on board one of our events in 2016.
New Zealand Smiddy Challenge / March 14-18 / 700km
March kicks off with the return to New Zealand for the second running of the 5 day ride through the Southern Alps. There are still a few slots available for those still on the fence.
Noosa Smiddy Challenge / April 22-25 / 450km
The new and revamped Noosa Smiddy 4 day ride is attracting a lot of first time Smiddy riders thanks to changing the format of the ride to shorter days.
Smiddy 1Day Mountain Bike / May 14 / 75km
Our brand new one day Mountain Bike Challenge promises to be a great day out in Noosa Hinterland. One not to be missed if you are into mountain biking.
Adelaide to Uluru Smiddy Challenge / June 5 – 13 / 1,750km
My journey around Australia may be complete but luckily Australia has more to offer than riding around its outskirts. Up the Guts, as I call it, will be completed over a two year period when in 2016 we ride from Adelaide to Uluru (Ayres Rock), then in 2017 from Uluru to Darwin. This event has captured the imagination of former Smiddy riders and many new Smiddy riders. I’m pleased to say that this event has sold out with 60 confirmed riders.
Smiddy UQ Swim Challenge / August 21 / 10km
This swim has been going for 21 years now thanks to Smiddy longtime supporters at UQ Aquatic Centre, with the last 4 years under the Smiddy umbrella. We look forward to bringing another great Smiddy experience to our dedicated swimmers who wish to their bit for cancer research.
Bottlemart Smiddy Challenge Brisbane to Townsville/ August 27 – September 3 / 1,600km
2016 sees the 11th running of this very tough, but most popular of all our events, and the one that got the juggernaut Smiddy ball rolling back in 2006. Once again the event will be capped at 50 riders.
The New 4-Day Smiddy Challenge / September 30 – October 3 / 800km
The Midi has been one of our most popular shorter rides but after 6 years it needed to be freshened up. Already entries are looking good and we are confident of reaching our cap of 50 riders. New towns, new distances, new beginnings and ending but as always, the same incredibly rewarding Smiddy experience but over 4 days instead of 3.
Team Smiddy Noosa Triathlon / October 30 / 1.5km swim - 40km bike - 10km run
This year we had over 300 triathletes raise a staggering amount of $340,000 and along the way enjoyed an incredible day out experiencing the energy that is Noosa and Smiddy combined. For 2016 we are on our way to filling our allocated slots of 360 and aiming towards a $400,000 target.
For all our 2016 events we still have slots available except the Adelaide to Uluru ride. But we are already taking expressions of interest for those interested in riding up to Darwin in 2017. You will then get first option of gaining a start. 2016 promises to be a massive year once again and all the team at Smiddy look forward to riding with you then.
Any questions or queries please don’t hesitate to contact me at Mark.Smoothy@mater.org.au
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.