Cause close to the heart

SWAN Hill mother and daughter duo Julie and Clarisa Wiggins will be running for a cause close to their hearts this weekend, honouring the memory of their father and husband.

Julie and Clarisa will put trainer to track on Sunday, participating in the ASICS 10-kilometre run through the streets of Melbourne as part of the 2019 Melbourne Marathon Festival.

The motivation for the marathon is a personal and painful one for Julie and Clarisa, who are running to raise funds and awareness for heart health following the sudden loss of Peter Wiggins to cardiac arrest last year.

Having signed up for MyMarathon, Sunday's run is just part of the journey for Julie and Clarisa, who will run a total 42.2 kilometres by the end of October.

Clarisa and Julie are also fundraising for the Heart Foundation, with a target of $2200.

A cause close to their hearts, Clarisa told The Guardian she lost her father Peter just last year, on August 26.

There were no warning signs, a "healthy family" who had been training to take part in Tough Mudder, Peter was just 55.

Clarisa had been chatting to Peter about her plans to attend university in Melbourne the following year when he got up to go to the kitchen.

"It was just out of the blue," Clarisa said.

"I heard a noise in the kitchen and went to see what it was, and dad was having a heart attack."

Peter suffered a cardiac arrest, in which the heart stops beating.

With the help of a triple zero call taker, Julie performed CPR.

Clarisa called neighbours, who also assisted with CPR until an ambulance arrived.

Peter was transferred to a hospital in Melbourne, where he passed away six days later.

"It just happened so quickly and there was no warning," Julie said.

"Apart from being a few kilos overweight, Peter was fit and healthy.

"Some days I still can't believe it."

Clarisa and Julie are now calling for everyone take the time to get the crucial heart health check-up, hoping to save anyone else from the sudden loss of a loved one.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that heart disease claimed the lives of 17,533 Australians in 2018 — around 48 every day.

It's the first marathon she has run, and Clarisa said she would be keeping her father in mind every step of the way.

"Our main motivation is just making sure that everyone has their heart checked," she said.

"I'm pretty excited about it, I have been training for the last three weeks, running between six and 12 kilometres and also walking some."

Now based in Melbourne, Clarisa said her mother had also been hitting the pavement in preparation for the race.

She said the marathon had been Julie's idea, a way to mark the first anniversary without Peter.

"My mum saw the Heart Foundation was having a marathon throughout October, she was already coming down for the weekend and we wanted to do something together," Clarisa said.

She added it was a way to "get our kilometres up together".

Clarisa said her dad would "100 per cent" be proud of their efforts to raise awareness for heart health, and it was something the mother and daughter plan to do every year.

"By doing this for Peter, we hope to raise awareness about heart disease, along with funds for research and community education," Julie said.

"As our experience shows, there is still a lot to learn and understand."

MyMarathon is open to people of all fitness levels and ages, with participation unrestricted by location.

Participants have the entire month of October to run, jog, walk, cycle or wheel the distance of a marathon (42.2 kilometres), roughly 1.4 kilometres a day.

The distance can be built up at any time of the night or day, at the person's convenience.

Last year's marathon event saw Australians working in Antarctica participate.

Heart Foundation director of active living, adjunct professor Trevor Shilton said you didn't need to be an elite athlete to conquer MyMarathon.

"Just about anyone can get involved, no matter what your age, location, background or fitness level," he said.

"You decide the pace and you decide the place."

Professor Shilton said the marathon could be done in "four hours, four days or four weeks", "on your own and part of a team", all for a good cause.

"The more people who take part, the more funds can be raised for the Heart Foundation's vital work in fighting heart disease," he said.

"This includes funding world-class cardiovascular research, guiding health professionals, educating Australians to make healthy choices and supporting people living with heart conditions."

Donations in support of Clarisa and Julie and their efforts to fundraise for the Heart Foundation can contribute at