Gibb Challenge endurance athletes to be Smiling All the Way for Royal Flying Doctor Service


Mary Cornelius (Bedford), support crew Larry Odgers (Yokine) and Dawn Penney (Yokine) are cycling the Gibb River Road to rasie funds for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d480485
Mary Cornelius (Bedford), support crew Larry Odgers (Yokine) and Dawn Penney (Yokine) are cycling the Gibb River Road to rasie funds for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d480485

ENDURANCE athletes Dawn Penney, of Yokine, and Mary Cornelius, of Bedford, are about to set off on their next challenge.

From May 11-18, the pair will take on The Gibb Challenge, cycling 660km along the Kimberley’s Gibb River Road from Derby to El Questro to raise awareness and money for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

“Mary and I have been friends for years sharing a love of endurance sport, a desire to have fun doing it and game to take on some challenges together,” Professor Penney, who works at ECU Joondalup’s School of Education, said.

“Mary met a colleague who had done it a couple of years ago and she thought it sounded like our next challenge.”

Though this is their first Gibb Challenge, they have backgrounds in triathlon, ironmans, marathon running, open water swimming and some bike events and have taken on the Around the Bay in a Day ride in Melbourne and qualified as a duo for the 2016 Rottnest Channel Swim before it was cancelled.

“The Gibb Challenge is something new and different for us and the fact it is in such special, remote country and that it is for such a great cause has all added a lot of meaning,” Prof Penney said.

“It’ll be a great adventure for sure.”

The challenge is for teams of two to six riders, with Prof Penney’s partner Larry Odgers joining them as their support crew, driver and bike mechanic and to set up camp each night.

“Because we are doing it as a duo, we keep taking it in turns to ride for about 40 minutes then change over and so on,” she said.

“In the support vehicle, Larry will be behind and whoever isn’t riding will be in the car having a short rest.

“The distances we have to cover each day are pretty epic considering it’s rough road and we’re on mountain bikes.

“Day one is 224km, day two 122km, day three 143km, day fou4 101km and day five we have an option of 48km or 94km. Somehow I think we’ll be opting for the 94.

“There are also plenty of water crossings on the route so at the moment we hope the north-west dries out.”

Named the Smiling All The Way team, Prof Penney said they were “definitely in this for fun and to share that enjoyment with everyone else on the journey”.

They have also smashed the required $1000 target having already raised more than $10,7000.

“I feel the Royal Flying Doctor Service really represents so much that is unique and so special about Australian life in the service they provide,” Prof Penney said.

“The kilometres they have to cover and the challenges they face on a daily basis are something we can’t fully appreciate unless we’ve been in a position where they have been that lifeline.”

To donate, go to bit.ly/2FvkpWy.

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