Riley sets a new challenge

Riley Whatman (right) with some of his team members.

Riley Whatman (right) with some of his team members.

Gooloogong's Riley Whatman has set himself a new challenge and he's enlisted Australian Olympian Dane Bird-Smith to be part of a team he is putting together to tackle it.

Now living in Brisbane, Riley's team is taking part in the Love Mercy Foundation 78 Challenge.

He's hoping to get plenty of support locally as well.

In December last year, while still living in Gooloogong Riley visited Uganda with the Love Mercy Foundation, where he joined former politician and ultra-marathon runner Pat Farmer, and a group of other experienced runners in a five-day long run across the country.

"We're doing this challenge because due to COVID-19 we can't go to Uganda this year," Riley said.

The 78 Challenge is a tribute to the distance Ugandan Olympian and former child soldier, Julius Achon ran as an 11 year-old to take part in a school carnival, a journey that set him on a path to the Olympic games.

"We're riding 78kms in a day from Thornlands in Brisbane to Wynnum, but you can do anything as long as it is 78 of what you do, some people are running 78km, you could even swim 78km if you can," Riley said.

Love Mercy is also open to people doing yoga for 78 minutes or cooking 78 cup cakes, anything as long as it incorporates the number 78.

Love Mercy exists to empower communities in Northern Uganda to overcome poverty caused by the horrors of war.

The charity began in 2010 in Sydney after Olympian Eloise Wellings met Achon who after making two Olympic games and building a life in America, returned to Uganda to help his communities who were suffering as a result of war.

Riley and his team hope to raise $1100 for Love Mercy.

The Foundation has set an overall target of $5000.

"We're doing the ride on November 15 but you can do the Challenge over two days on November 14 and 15 if you want," Riley said.

"All you have to do to take part is create a profile online (at the Love Mercy website) and fundraise for the 78 Challenge personally or join or even form your own team to fundraise.

"My team is Ozwalker and we've enlisted Australian Olympian Dane Bird-Smith to help out as well."

Bird-Smith won bronze in the 20km walk at the Rio Olympics and gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

"Anyone can jump on board in our team or form their own," Riley said.

You can donate towards Riley's Ozwalker team at

If you want to sign up for the 78 challenge it as easy as going to the link