Lifestyle Sport & Fitness Medicos Set up Marathon Challenge
Medicos Set up Marathon Challenge
Written by Mr Peter McClelland
Saturday, 01 February 2014


Heading bush is a great circuit-breaker from the pressure of patients. In late 2013 five medicos – Dr Dustin Hall, Dr Ben Walawski, Dr Peter Dewing and his father Dr Mick Dewing and Dr Angelika Elsmann – took part in the Blackwood Marathon Relay in Pemberton.

Blackwood-Marathon-Dec 13-300x250Its all go at the start of the Blackwood Marathon relay

Heading bush is a great circuit-breaker from the pressure of patients. In late 2013 five medicos – Dr Dustin Hall, Dr Ben Walawski, Dr Peter Dewing and his father Dr Mick Dewing and Dr Angelika Elsmann – took part in the Blackwood Marathon Relay in Pemberton.

The medicos were spread over several teams which comprise five members -- a runner, a canoeist, a swimmer, an equestrian and a cyclist.

The race begins in Boyup Brook and finishes in Bridgetown after 60km of thrills, spills and a few laughs.

Not surprisingly, there’s some friendly rivalry between Dustin’s team of youngsters and their older counterparts.

The former, Brannigan’s Law and the latter, a local team called the Geegelup Racers with Pemberton GP Mick Dewing on the canoe leg, are still contesting the subject of Mick’s alleged broken paddle.

Friendly rivalry between docs

“The Geegelup Racers reckon the paddle incident distorted the final result but we still won convincingly. I think their runner had a calf injury as well. They are our parents’ generation so there’s a competitive element,” said haematology senior registrar Dr Dustin Hall.

Dustin ran the 12km running course through some beautiful scenery and spent the majority of it looking upwards.

“The run consists almost entirely of hills. It’s all up and down, some of them are quite steep and half is on gravel so it’s harder than the City to Surf.

The weather was beautiful at the start but warmed up for the cyclists.”

“The Blackwood marathon was a nice way to finish a busy year. I had my physician exams and then had to study for haematology at the same time our son, Owen, was born. We’re thinking about shaking-up the roles this year. Ben and I do a lot of cycling together so we might do a swap.”

Dr-Angelika-Elsmann-and-daughter-Katie-Nov 230x190Mt Lawley GP Dr Angelika Elsmann
(and daughter Katie) in the equestrian leg.

Colleagues team up

Dr Ben Walawski, a Third Avenue Surgery GP, reserves high praise for the iron-woman who charged past him when he was about to start his cycle leg. She competed in every single discipline and crossed the finish line ahead of her iron-man husband.

“It’s an enjoyable day and, in terms of Mick Dewing and his Geegelup Racers, the competitive streak comes more from us than it does from them. They are in their 50s and 60s, but we did grab a 20-minute lead when Mick’s paddle broke.”

“He’s been doing the Blackwood for the last 30 years and there’s always a strong medical presence at the event. Dr Doug Cordell was in a managerial role in 2013 but competed the year before that and Dr Peter Bath in a team called Old Docs did the cycle leg. He was very interested in my time but thankfully I edged him out thanks to a 40-year age difference.”

Ben sings the praises of the Blackwood as a welcome circuit-breaker from the pressures of work.

“It’s a good talking point within the practice. Angelika Elsmann, who also works at Third Avenue, rode her horse for another team and her daughter, Katie was our equestrian competitor.”

“As doctors it’s important to stay fit and active. It’s also something to work towards throughout the year that has a competitive element and a social side as well.”

Ben-Walawski-blitzing-the-opposition-Nov 220x190Dr Ben Walawski sets the pace

Acquiring horse power

The equestrian leg is the most problematic of all five disciplines at the Blackwood. Many groups don’t technically ‘finish’ because they don’t have a horse and rider to complete the team. Dr Angelika Elsmann rode for a team called Over 4T. She was the only female and hadn’t met any of the others before the starting gun.

“The team asked me how long I thought I’d take to finish the 16km course. I estimated around 50 minutes and it took me two minutes less than that. I got a phone-call during the event from Pete Dewing asking me how the ride was going. I told him I was still doing it! I think it was sabotage and they were trying to slow me down.”

The swim leg isn’t Dr Peter Dewing’s specialty and in previous years he’s done the run and the paddle sections.

“It was the first swimming event I’d ever done and the water was cold and dark. I don’t think I’ll put my hand up for that again. I’d rather do the run so next year Ben and I might have to do a selection time-trial.”

“The Blackwood attracts a range of competitors from those who have just thrown a team together to elite athletes. It’s family friendly, too. When I finished my swim I gave my race-bib to the next person and was handed back a baby! It was Dustin’s son, Owen, and the team was running out of hands.”

“If any doctors out there want to be take part, they should head for the Blackwood on the last weekend of October.”

Veterans of the event
Pete’s father, Mick, is a real veteran of the race.

The Blackwood, by his own admission, is a big part of Mick’s life.

“I competed in the inaugural 1978 race and have only missed two since then. In fact, my social life has revolved around the event for the last 35 years. You always see a lot of people in the medical profession at the Blackwood.”

“For a non-sportsman such as me the canoe leg is relatively easy, it’s only 7km and I know the river like the back of my hand. I hardly have to train for it and still manage to do a respectable time. Well, most years anyway.”

“The youngsters better look out – next year I’ll be 25 minutes faster!”