From remote Australia to the bright lights of New York

Monday 24th September, 2012

As the sun rose over Alice Springs in the early hours of Saturday morning, nine Indigenous athletes from across the country conquered the biggest challenge of their short running careers.

Korey Summers, Nat Heath, Jurgean Tabuai, Kieren De Santis, Justin Gaykamangu, Marius Clarke, Amber Parker and Grace Eather overcame their fears to smash their 30km test event and earn themselves a place on Rob de Castella’s Indigenous Marathon Project team to travel to New York in November.

Nicky Kerindun had the run of her life finishing a 21.1km course (10.1 km further than she had ever run) to make it into the squad for the Boston Marathon in April next year. She will be joined by Emma Cameron, who was injured and unable to run on the weekend.

Project Director Rob de Castella, who has been mentoring the athletes since they were selected into the squad in March, said he was overwhelmed by what the athletes, many from extremely remote parts of the country, had achieved over such as short space of time.

“Many of these guys and girls didn’t even know what a marathon was six months ago, and they never would have believed that they could have run 30km and be on track to run a marathon,” he said.

“To see the looks of complete joy and self-belief on their faces when they crossed the finish line was amazing, and for them to realise that they can in fact achieve anything that they put their minds to is really what this Project is all about.”

21 year old Amber Parker from Cessnock said the 30km event was the hardest thing she had ever done.

“I got to the 25km mark and I hit the wall and felt like I couldn’t keep going, but there was only 5km to go, and my family had driven nearly 3,000 kilometres to support me from the sideline, so I knew I had to make it,” she said.

“I am so excited to be in the team to go to New York, and I am really happy that my new friend Grace (from Maningrida in Arnhem Land) will be coming with me. My Grandmother was one of the stolen generation and IMP has reconnected me with my Aboriginal culture, Grace and I will be friends forever”.

To train for and run a marathon is no easy task no matter where you are from, and for this team, their obstacles  have been incomprehensible, with the athletes overcoming isolation and loneliness, oppressive heat and humidity, vicious dogs, crocodiles, buffalos, and injury.

In just five weeks, they will embark on an epic 42.195 km journey through the streets of New York, alongside 48,000 other runners, and in front of two million cheering fans who will line the streets of New York, and more than 35 million television viewers worldwide.

The teams for Boston and New York are:

 IMP New York Marathon team 
Korey Summers Alice Springs, NT 2.11.50
Justin Gaykamangu Ramingining, NT 2.17.30
Nat Heath Newcastle, NSW 2.20.40
Marius Clarke Gunbalanya, NT 2.25.52
Jurgean Tabuai Townsville, QLD 2.34.10
Kieren De Santis Tiwi Islands, NT 2.48.15
Amber Parker Cessnock, NSW 2.56.40
Grace Eather Maningrida, NT 3.24.10
IMP Boston Marathon squad
Nicky Kerindun Aurukun, QLD 3.00.00 (21.1km)
Emma Cameron Darwin, NT n/a
For more information, or to arrange interviews and photos, please contact Laura Oldfield on (02) 6260 5750 or 0438 523 543.