When ultrarunner Blaine Penny and his wife had their son, Evan, everything seemed normal at first. The Penny family’s lives didn’t change until Evan began to have some stomach problems as a young child in 2008.
Initially, doctors believed it was just an appendix issue. Then, Evan was misdiagnosed with a neurological disease, and ended up in a coma after surgery. It wasn’t until a year later that doctors finally resolved that Evan had mitochondrial disease. It would affect his day-to-day life forever, as he had become a quadriplegic.
As the Penny family began to educate themselves more on mitochondrial disease, a sickness that is hard to diagnose and deeply affects a person’s energy levels, doctors directed them towards an American organization. Blaine went to a symposium on the disease and met some others who agreed Canada would benefit from having its own organization dedicated to educating and raising money for mitochondrial disease. He formed MitoCanada, a foundation and registered charity aimed at supporting Canadians living with the disease.
MitoCanada has always been closely tied to the sports world. Blaine, an accomplished runner himself (a 3-time Canadian ultra distance champion and a marathon PB of 2:29) has always come back to running because of its simplicity and convenience in his busy life. He formed Team Mito, a nationwide roster of athletes of all abilities who compete in all types of endurance sports to raise money and awareness for MitoCanada. To date, the team has raised over $1 million, a large chunk of that through marathons.
Blaine is excited to have Team Mito participating in the Scotiabank Toronto Watefront Marathon charity challenge this year.
“This is a great opportunity for our platform,” he says. “We will have more than 50 runners at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.”
Blaine himself is participating in the marathon and will stand out among runners, dressed as a battery. A multiple Guinness World Record holder already, this will be a record attempt for Blaine for both fastest marathon and half-marathon in a battery costume.
There is currently no record holder for the fastest half-marathon or full marathon dressed as a battery. To achieve the record, it’s been decided that Blaine must break 2:00 and 4:00 respectively in order to state the standard.
Blaine currently holds the record for the most runners linked to complete a half marathon—112— which was achieved by Team MitoCanada at the 2017 Calgary Marathon.
But why the battery costume?
“Mitochondrial disease is all about energy, and a person’s internal battery,” Penny explains.
Runners at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon will be sure to spot Blaine out on the course in his costume, as well as the many other Team Mito runners in their signature green singlets.