Gearing up for a capital task

Pictured from left is Greg Manzie and Rob Donaldson with some of the tools of the trade.
Pictured from left is Greg Manzie and Rob Donaldson with some of the tools of the trade.

TWO Brechiners will be taking part in the London triathlon later this month to raise money for DeBRA and Diabetes UK.

Brothers-in-law Rob Donaldson and Greg Manzie will, on July 31, take part in the challenge which will see them swimming 1500 metres in the London Docks, cycling 40 kilometres and running 10 kilometres, the same distance as an Olympic triathlon.

Rob will be raising money for DebRA: a national charity working on behalf of individuals and families affected by Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), a rare condition which causes the skin and internal body linings to blister and shear at the slightest friction causing painful open wounds.

“I recently took part in my first triathlon over half the Olympic distance at Knockburn Loch near Banchory which seemed to go okay,” said Rob.

“Training is going well so far, with swimming before work at 6 am, mixed with cycling to work and home again (48-mile round trip) being my main sessions.

“Unfortunately, a niggling calf injury prevented much running in the last few months but that seems to be on the mend.

“Many readers will probably not be aware of EB.

“I started suffering mild symptoms aged about 20 years, although it took a few years for the diagnosis to be confirmed.

“I am lucky that my symptoms are limited to occasional blisters on my hands and feet.

“Because of EB I have had to give up activities such as golf, DIY and gardening whilst decorating can cause a bit of pain in the days following; a good excuse to avoid these activities.

“Cycling and running can also cause blisters but, other than that it does not really affect my day to day life. However, others are not so lucky.

“Through Virgin Money Giving, you can sponsor me and donations will be quickly processed and passed to the charity.

“Virgin Money Giving is a not-for-profit organisation and will claim gift aid on a charity’s behalf where the donor is eligible for this.”

EB is likely to affect 1 in 17,000 live births and it is estimated that there are currently 5,000 people with the condition in the UK.

EB is an inherited condition which is passed on genetically from parents to children.

First time parents often do not know that they are carriers and will have no prior warning that the child will be affected, until birth.

The condition has a number of distinct forms.

At its mildest, the blistering is confined to the hands and feet making holding things and walking extremely painful.

In more severe forms all the body is affected and the wounds heal very slowly, giving rise to scarring, physical deformity and significant disability.

For many affected by the condition, the blistering is not limited to the skin but also affects the inner body linings such as the mouth and oesophagus.

People with the more severe types of EB also have an exceptionally high risk of developing skin cancers, shortening their lives by approximately 30-40 years.

In its most severe form, the condition is fatal in infancy.

Whilst considerable progress has been made in recent years in understanding EB and identifying the genes that cause the condition, there is as yet no effective treatment or a cure.

Greg Manzie will be raising money for Diabetes UK after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes almost 18 years ago.

“Training started off well,” he comments. “I stopped the weekly visit to the local takeaway, ate more fruit etc., but for those of you who already know me you knew that this was to be short-lived!

“I still have my regular visit to the Indian or Chinese.

“I injured my knee while out running and this prevented me from doing any sort of training from November until February.

“However, things seem to be back to normal now and I feel that I am making good progress.”

Rob hopes to complete the challenge in under two hours 50 minutes whilst Greg hopes to finish in around three hours.

To sponsor Rob visit and to sponsor Greg go to