Australia’s largest Indigenous running festival inspires a nation

The Northern Territory’s remote community of Galiwinku on Elcho Island was home to Australia’s largest ever community driven fun run on Friday 19 September.

More than 1000 Indigenous Australians participated in the inaugural AlpaCoolridge Galiwinku Fun Run, which was initiated by 2014 Indigenous Marathon Project (IMP) runner, Rachel Baker, in partnership with Senior Constable Tim Wethers of the Northern Territory Police.

The event was a day‐long celebration of running, community, empowerment and collaboration with people of all ages, from toddlers doing a 100m dash, the elderly, running and walking 5k distances, a community 10k, a 21k relay event and a full individual half marathon. The day ended with a concert and dancing well into the night.

Event organiser, Rachel Baker, said the fun run provided a platform for everyone in the community to come together.

“The fun run was something everyone could participate in and that’s where the idea originated.

“IMP encourages inclusion, togetherness and a sense of achievement. This event was my way of giving back and encouraging everyone in the community to share in the joy and fun that running and fitness can bring,” she said.

Marathon legend Rob de Castella, was humbled to see the impact the fun run had in the community.

“It was absolutely amazing. To see toddlers and school children getting involved, through to the older women dressed in skirts and sandals who shuffled through their 5k run; but they were running and it was fantastic to watch.

Running has really taken off in Galiwinku following the success of 2013 IMP runner Evelyna finishing New York and now Rachel in the 2014 IMP squad.

“This fun run has enriched the community of Galiwinku and has had a significant impact on their health and well-being. The health clinic has seen people lose weight, improve their health, and reduce their need for medication.

“Running creates an incredible capacity for people of all ages and abilities to participate in. It’s not about winning; it’s about coming together, having fun and celebrating the benefits of an active and healthy lifestyle.

“The success of this inaugural event is evidenced by the fact it has been marked as a permanent event at Galiwinku which is set to grow each year.

“Rachel’s initiative to organise this event is testament to her dedication to create change in her community. She is an inspiration to her people and all Australians. We would also like to acknowledge all sponsors and community organisations that collaborated to create Australia’s largest, and successful, ever community‐driven fun run,” he said.

Click here to view a gallery of sensational images captured on the day!