Tandem cycling team cross the Nullarbor help eradicate polio

Headshot of Carwyn Monck
Carwyn MonckKalgoorlie Miner
Philip and Joyce Ogden will cycle across the Nullarbor raising funds to help eradicate polio.
Camera IconPhilip and Joyce Ogden will cycle across the Nullarbor raising funds to help eradicate polio. Credit: Carwyn Monck/Kalgoorlie Miner

A husband-and-wife tandem cycling team raising funds to help eradicate polio passed through Kalgoorlie-Boulder this week before embarking on their journey across the Nullarbor.

Tasmanian Rotarians Philip and Joyce Ogden started their journey in Midland last week before arriving in Kalgoorlie-Boulder on Sunday.

The duo will travel south to Norseman before heading east along the Eyre Highway towards their final destination in Adelaide.

Mrs Ogden said her husband was “keen for a challenge” before the duo settled on cycling across the Nullarbor to raise money for charity.

She said the couple are avid cyclists and they aim to travel six days a week, averaging 100km a day, and hope to reach Adelaide by late June by which time they would have travelled more than 2770km.

The couple have previously cycled across the Pyrenees mountain range in Europe and sections of the Swiss Alps in Switzerland, Dolomites in Italy and Canadian Rockies.

The couple have set a fundraising target of $40,000 which will be donated to the Rotary End Polio Now campaign.

A retired anaesthetist, Mr Ogden said while he rarely dealt with polio cases, his medical background had allowed him to gain a greater understanding of the effort required to eradicate the disease.

“I am very much aware that polio can go the same way as smallpox (which was) completely eradicated about 20 years ago,” he said.

“(Polio’s) only host is humans so if you can immunise the entire human population, polio is gone forever.

“We are so incredibly close to eradicating it but to get those final couple of cases in Afghanistan and Pakistan off the books, it actually takes a lot of effort.”

Mr Ogden said the cause was now close to his heart after learning his brother was diagnosed with the virus at a young age, something he did not discover until embarking on his latest journey.

He said his brother has always suffered from chronic fatigue, one of the symptoms of post-polio syndrome, which he attributes to the virus.

“The symptoms of chronic fatigue are indistinguishable from the post-polio syndrome, so suddenly I think he’s got post-polio, but I never knew,” he said.

“From doing it for no reason, I’m doing it for my brother now.”

Mrs Ogden said with COVID-19 and other humanitarian crises occurring in recent years, they fear polio may get “pushed under the ground” before it could be eradicated.

She said the couple hoped their journey would help publicise the urgent need to eradicate the virus.

Based in Tasmania, the couple are members of South Launceston Rotary Club and have been meeting with Rotary clubs along their journey.

Information about the Ogdens’ ride and how to donate can be found on the Rotary Tasmania website.

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