They did it – the 2014 IMP squad absolutely dominated the New York City Marathon!
In horrendous conditions that saw the wheelchair race shortened by 2.8 miles and moved to a start at Brooklyn, all 10 runners obliterated the line of uncertainty, self-doubt and personal challenges to emerge as strong, self-confident and extremely proud marathon runners.
The temperature was a mere 2C, a stark contrast to the searing heat our runners have been exposed to in recent weeks. They swapped the sunscreen for gloves, jumpers and beanies and pushed through a relentless head wind to conquer the gruelling 42.195km.
Race conditions somewhat reflected the squad’s first training run in Canberra, which some might say were perfectly adequate for the first day of Winter – rain, wind, and freezing temperatures.
But no amount of inclement weather was going to stop this squad. They demonstrate a perseverance, resilience, and inner self-belief that renders them incapable of defeat; regardless of the enormity of what lies ahead.
Nathan Riley became the fastest Australian Aboriginal man to run the New York Marathon, finishing the race in 3:09:20. Despite having a boxing background, he only started running in May.
Ruth Wallace has paved the way for the future of Australian Indigenous people of Adelaide, after she made history becoming Adelaide’s first New York Marathon runner.
Allirra Braun’s incredible transformation didn’t stop at becoming 32kgs lighter; her renovated frame allowed her to lead the charge for the women, being the first 2014 woman over the line. Allirra also became the first Braun, Ludwig, Kungurrakan and Gurrindji woman to complete a marathon.
Adrian Dodson-Shaw, after missing out on selection in 2012, was determined to give it one more shot before the cut-off age would prevent him from applying again. His self-belief paid off when he was named on the 2014 team and today’s marathon finish makes him the first Broome IMP representative to participate in the New York Marathon.
Elsie Seriat and Harold Matthew, the Nadine Hunt and Charlie Maher (respectively) Award recipients, also raised the profile of Thursday Island, when they too became the Island’s first ever Australian Indigenous runners to take on the marathon. Not only did they achieve great success in the marathon, both runners have had a significant impact in their community by initiating fun runs, guest speaking at community events, establishing fitness camps for the community to attend – free of charge, and continually inspiring their community to adopt healthy and active lifestyles.
These are just surface scratching examples of how incredible this group of Indigenous Australians are. They have an infectious love and deep appreciation of family and community. They are humble and resilient.
And they are an absolute asset to our nation.
Today didn’t mark the finish of a marathon; it symbolised new pathways and opportunities.
Congratulations to the historic 2014 IMP squad. You are the future and you will continue to influence change within both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities nation wide.
Today was just the beginning.