Great day for a long walk

By Rich Evans

The Great Walk Foundation are, this Saturday, walking the last challenging legs of their walk from Bathurst to Blaxland. Founded by friends Jonathon Green & Rob Wearn 7 years ago, the team of walkers cover over 180kms in 6 days, donating much needed funds to local charities along the way. We went out to meet them along the road from Tarana to Lithgow on a sunny morning, last Wednesday. Such was the momentum of the guys walking that rather than stop for a chat, I suggested I should walk with them for a while to get the story. Sadly I chose to join them just as they commenced one of the more challenging uphill sections of the road. By the time we reached my support vehicle, I was not in great shape. It was a humbling experience, giving me all the more respect for the team of men and women walking. They looked as if they were out for a morning stroll. Despite the sharp incline, I did get a chance to talk. One of the original founders explained as we walked that, like so many of these amazing groups, the walk started out as a bet to see if they could go the distance. It was then subsequently decided that, if they were going to walk that far, they might as well do it for a reason. The walkers have since used the walk over the years to focus on Central West, Blue Mountains, Penrith and Hawkesbury charities Rugby League legend Mark Geyer, a founding member of the walk, is walking with the group again this year after spending some time away due to work commitments. “It’s a great group of guys we get to walk with and along the way it makes a great difference to the communities we can give donations to,” said Mark. On Wednesday evening, a presentation of $5000 was made in Lithgow to SDN’s early intervention program. SDN LEIP are an early intervention childhood service located and operating in the Lithgow council area, providing assistance for families of children with additional needs. The walk happens each year thanks to corporate sponsors and events the team attends along the way, such as the Auction they had on the Monday night in Bathurst before heading off. To date the foundation has raised in excess of $600,000 and many charities and organisations have benefited. When we caught up with the team at the Donnybrook Hotel later in the afternoon, they were enjoying a few well earned ales and relaxing like a team of mates who had just come home from work, not a group that had just walked from Tarana to Lithgow. For some reason – perhaps it was adrenaline from meeting one of my boyhood idols, Mark Geyer – I committed to walking that leg with them next year. “I’ll hold you to that” Mark said, as he and the team departed for the evening before hitting the road again the following morning to continue their journey. I guess I should start training now if Wednesday’s effort is anything to go by. For more information on the Foundation or to donate visit their website http://greatwalkfoundation.com.au