A squad of 11 Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander runners selected by the Indigenous Marathon Project will run at this year’s Gold Coast Airport Marathon (30 June -1 July) in preparation for the New York City Marathon later in the year.
The six male and five female runners in the Indigenous Marathon Project are being mentored by Gold Coast Airport Marathon Ambassador and four-time Olympian Robert de Castella. They will be running in either the ASICS Half Marathon or Southern Cross University 10km Run on the Gold Coast as part of their six month training program for New York.
The Indigenous Marathon Project, which started in 2010, annually selects a group of young Indigenous men and women to compete in the New York City Marathon with the overall goal of increasing physical activity and promoting healthy lifestyles in Indigenous communities.
The group, who come from some of the most remote places in Australia, will arrive on the Gold Coast for race weekend and will share their vision of increasing physical activity and promoting healthy lifestyles in the Indigenous community.
One runner who will be pounding the pavement on the Gold Coast will be 21-year-old student Grace Eather from Maningrida in the Northern Territory. Grace said she feels a sense of responsibility to promote health and wellbeing to the younger Indigenous generation.
“I want to see that we are able to make a change in our own communities and have the same opportunities as young people in the cities, and that young Indigenous people can do whatever they want when they put their mind to it,” said Grace.
Residing in Milikapiti in the Tiwi Islands (100 kilometres north of Darwin), 19-year-old Kieren de Santis said he was determined to stick to the six month training program and complete his race at the Gold Coast Airport Marathon.
“When I got the phone call I was very proud of myself. Now that I am in this position, I just have to prove that I can stick with the program and do the training so I can get somewhere,” said Kieren.
“This will change my whole world. I want to show others around the community that it’s not hard to change your lives.”
Indigenous Marathon Project founder and mentor Robert de Castella said the Gold Coast Airport Marathon will be an eye-opening experience for the group as they continue their journey to New York in November.
“Imagine coming from one of the most remote, isolate and driest parts of Australia to the Gold Coast, and then being one of tens of thousands of others, running at the Gold Coast Airport Marathon,” said de Castella.
“Most Indigenous Marathon Project runners didn’t even know what a marathon was in February and at the Gold Coast Airport Marathon, they will be running a half marathon off just three months training as they track towards the full marathon distance at the famous New York City Marathon in just four months.
“Along the way, they will get fitter than ever, see and do some amazing things that will inspire them, and learn about looking after the health of their communities through their Certificate III in Community Recreation (Indigenous Healthy Lifestyle).”
Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games, Jann Stuckey, commended the partnership between the Gold Coast Airport Marathon and the Indigenous Marathon Project.
“The Gold Coast Airport Marathon is one of the world’s greatest running events, and the Indigenous Marathon Project continues to be an important aspect of the event, supporting the determination of the group as they strive for New York.”
“Last year we welcomed more than 50,000 visitors to the Gold Coast for the event, building Queensland’s reputation as Australia’s number one tourist destination.”
More than 130 people applied to be part of the Indigenous Marathon project with the final 11 chosen after lengthy national try-outs and interviews.
30-year-old Emma Cameron from Darwin is a Northern Territory netball representative and aims to demonstrate to the Indigenous women population that participating in sport can increase confidence.
Anna, 19, and Nicky Kerindun, 21, from Aurukun, Queensland are both aiming to make a change in their community. Anna has the goal of building a PCYC for young children in her hometown, while Nicky wants to be a strong role model for her community.
21-year-old Amber Parker from the Hunter Valley, New South Wales wants to utilise her chance with the Indigenous Marathon Project to experience more of her Indigenous culture and become more involved in her community.
22-year-old AFL fanatic Marius Clarke from Gunbalanya in the Northern Territory does a great amount of work in Indigenous communities helping young children and hopes to continue to be an inspiration for his family and community.
29-year-old Justin Gaykamangu from Ramingining, Northern Territory, wants to set a positive example for his son and continue his presence in his community, especially in organising sporting activities.
A first grade rugby player from Newcastle, New South Wales, 26-year-old Nat Heath wants to use his opportunity with The Project to promote education and health in the Indigenous community.
Alice Springs local, 22-year-old Korey Summers is currently undertaking a traineeship in computer networking and engineering and hopes to make a positive difference in his community and share his running talents.
30-year-old Jurgean Tabuai from Townsville, Queensland wants to take his passion for running to the next level and inspire others in his community to take up the sport.
For more information on the Indigenous Marathon Project visit www.imp.org.au
Entries for the 2012 Gold Coast Airport Marathon are open. For more information or to enter visit www.goldcoastmarathon.com.au
Visit the exciting and diverse calendar of events in Queensland at www.eventsqld.com.au