• My mate, Adam

(words by Mark ‘Sharky’ Smoothy)

August 6, 2006. A moment in time forever etched in my mind, for it was on this day that the Smiddy family lost their beloved son Adam. They lost their son, while I lost a mate—a very good mate who was taken far too soon. Each year, since the Smiling for Smiddy Challenge began in 2006, I sit down as the date of his passing approaches and pen a few words to honour my mate. One would think after nine years of writing about Adam that I would run out of words to say, but it is quite the opposite—as long as the Smiddy community doesn’t tire of reading about my mate, then I can assure you that I have enough words in me to last a lifetime of writing about Adam.

While this will be the ninth year since Adam departed this beautiful world, we will actually be celebrating the successful running of the tenth Smiddy Challenge that starts on Saturday 29 August and finishes in Townsville on 5 September. That first Smiddy Challenge began with just the three of us—Ron Steel, Oliver Bodak and myself—on that long road to Townsville, unsupported and adorned with backpacks to carry our provisions. We were all underdone in fitness, riding bikes designed for short course triathlons rather than long rides, carrying backpacks that let their presence be known to our necks and shoulders from the very first kilometre. We had brutal sunshine and 40 degree days, along with freezing cold rain on day two of the Challenge that did not relent for eight hours. We had one close call with a kangaroo that went within a whisker of taking the three of us out as we descended the last hill into Eidsvold in the dark; saddle sores from wearing ill fitted cycling garments; sweat rashes on our backs from the backpacks; and always battling the constant fatigue of ten hour days in the saddle.

To this day, I can honestly tell you that the only reason the three of us completed that first epic journey was because of mateship. All too often, people take friendship for granted. It was only after Adam passed away that I looked back on our friendship and truly appreciated all the little things he did for me.

Besides the small friendly gestures on a daily basis, I will always recall the time that Adam asked for the hundreds of notes I used for coaching sessions with the UQ Triads triathlon squad. You see, my coaching methods consisted of workouts that would come to the front of mind in the most inopportune moments—I always carried a note book around and would scribble down workouts as they came to mind; tear that page out, turn up to coaching the next day, deliver the session according to what I had written, then place that note in the top draw of my desk when I got home. The note never being used again, as I would never do the same session twice. Those notes accounted for hundreds of session over a few years.

Then one day, Adam approached me and asked if he could have the notes, knowing about my top drawer obsession and that I would never throw them out. When I asked as to why, Adam simply said “Sharky, I just want to go through them, pick out a few of my favourite sessions and do them in my own time.” So the next day I brought the notes in and thought nothing more of it. Two months later, Adam approached me after training in his laid back, no-fuss way and gave me something beautifully gift-wrapped. Inside the package was a folder with a big fierce photo of a shark on the front with the headline “Sharky’s Savage Sets”.

My kind-hearted and beautiful friend had not only typed out each of the hundreds of handwritten notes, he also put them into sub-folders such as:

  • Monday Sprint Sets
  • Tuesday Road Running Sessions
  • Wednesday Wind Trainer
  • Thursday Road Bike Sets
  • Friday Running Track Sets

To this day I still have that folder and it is a treasure worth more to me than anything money could ever buy. That was my mate and what he did—not just for me, but continuously for those people around him lucky to be either his family or closest friends. Smiling for Smiddy, right from the beginning, has been about mateship and I like to think that Adam’s influence is why Smiddy events are so unique.

I miss my mate today just as much as I did nine years ago. Hopefully, through these stories about Adam, his memory and the ever enduring Smiddy Spirit will stay alive. My heart goes out to the Smiddy family on every day of the year, but particularly this day—especially after the tragic passing of Adam’s mother Maria in May this year. To say the least, this family has been through hell. But as the Smiddy community of thousands come together to support them through this most difficult time, the message from everyone has been crystal clear—we must keep marching forward and raising funds for cancer research; always creating hope and never giving in to despair.

Never giving up. Never giving in. Adam and Maria would have wanted that. I know I speak on behalf of anyone that has come into contact with the Smiddy family in any way, shape or form over the past nine years when I say that we will honour their wishes and never let them down.

For nine years now I have set myself fundraising goals so that we can try and get the one-up on cancer. But this year is special—I have set myself a goal of raising $10 000 to honour the memory of my mate Adam, and celebrate the life of his mother Maria. Even if you can contribute in the smallest way, I invite you to help me achieve my goal by following the link to my fundraising page.

Thank you, and take care.

Sharky.

The Mater Foundation is registered as a charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission ABN 96723184640.