A walk to remember



Walking 46,200 steps in one day sounds pretty exhausting, right? Well, it’s nothing compared to the fatigue experienced by people with mitochondrial disease every day.

The Bloody Long Walk, to be held on September 8 starting at 6am, spans the 35km of stunning ocean lookouts, national parks, clifftops and coastline between Palm Beach and Manly Corso, giving walkers a scenic day out while highlighting to them just how tiring it is to live with mito.

The walk raises money for the Mito Foundation, a charity founded by Warriewood locals Doug and Margie Lingard that funds research into finding a cure, supports people within the mito community and works to increase public awareness and provide advocacy.

The couple started the charity 10 years ago following the death of their eldest son, Alex, from the disease and the diagnosis of their youngest daughter, Rose.

“Nothing was known of mitochondrial disease when Alex died,” Doug explains to Peninsula Living.

“He just died of an unknown epileptic disorder. I’m in the medical profession, so I had access to some of the best people in the world in that particular field, and we still didn’t get answers. Then, when our youngest daughter Rose developed similar symptoms some 20 odd years later, we went back to the researchers that had been involved with Alex and they told us they believed in retrospect that he had died of mitochondrial disease. That was the first we’d heard of it.

“Nobody knew about it, including most GPs and most specialists, and so we started the Mitochondrial Foundation as a means of providing information for other people in the country who had the disease.”

According to Doug and Margie, at least 1 in 200 Australians have the genetic mutation that can lead to a form of mito, and 50 babies are born a year with a life-threatening form of the disease.

Now in its sixth year, The Bloody Long Walk has grown to be the foundation’s biggest fundraising event of the year, with the 10 walks scheduled around the country this year, which are expected to raise a total of close to $3 million.

The walk across Doug and Margie’s local area of the Northern Beaches was the original event, and this year it takes on special significance for the couple as they walk to honour their daughter Rose, who passed away two years ago.

Doug and Margie say people are encouraged to enter in teams or individually, with the sense camaraderie between those participating meaning you’re sure to make friends regardless.

“You end up having lovely conversations with all sorts of people. They ask your association with the walk and then by the time we get to Manly, we’re ready for a glass of champagne!” Margie says.

Those who aren’t quite up to the mammoth 35km are still encouraged to get involved, with donations now open at https://www.bloodylongwalk.com.au/sydney-north/

The Bloody Long Walk will be held on September 8, starting at 6am at Palm Beach. Registrations are open now at the website.


Stephanie Aikins

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