Half marathon; conquered!

The squad is well and truly on the run to the New York Marathon, after conquering one of Australia’s most-loved running running festivals – the Gold Coast Airport Marathon – during the second camp.

It was another jam-packed camp, (click here for website gallery or here for Facebook album) with the squad hearing personal insight and stories into the lives of two Australian ex-veterans, who bravely served Australia and suffered with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following their service. Sarah Watts and Todd Berry, shared their story with the squad and explained how using running and physical activity has significantly helped in battling their post-war demons.

Both soldiers are representatives with Soldier On, and were so generous in giving of their time, meeting the squad and look forward to catching up again on the start line in New York – which will also be their first marathon!

Of course there were also health checks, Certificate III studies to continue, a trip to the race expo – which was a first for most of the squad, and meeting supporters, ambassadors and IMP Graduates at the Main Beach parkrun on Friday 1 July.

Then it was time. Time to put hours of training and sacrifice to the test. Time to line up alongside 10,000 other half marathon competitors and put one foot in front of the other.

Time to achieve their half marathon dream.

Eleven of the 12 squad members (Megan Highfold was unfortunately unable to participate due to injury), lined up in the dark of race morning, jiggling their legs to keep warm, supporting each other and nervously awaiting the start gun.

Then they were off. Just a short 21.1km between them and the finish line.

All of them pushed through mental and physical pain to cross the line of their first half marathon, the milestone elevating them to the half-way point to the ultimate goal of the Grandfather of marathon events – New York!

Squad member from Heywood, Gundijmara/Yorta Yorta man, Billy Bell, is following in the footsteps of his cousin, 2015 IMP Graduate, Jessica Lovett-Murray, and said finishing the half marathon provided a huge confidence boost.

“I recovered pretty well. I did a light run on Tuesday and been feeling better each day since. I think my body has been tricked from camp to waking up at 4.30am which isn’t that cool.

“After completing my first half marathon I felt like I have just kicked down a massive wall that at the start of the year I wasn’t able to do. It has really boosted my self-belief and I know now that if I stick to my training program and with a lot of hard work and sacrifice that anything is really possible.”

Fellow squad member from Mt Druitt, Jesse Thompson, smashed his half marathon placing seventh in his age category hitting the line in just 74 minutes!

“To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to run sub 1:15. I averaged 25kms per week, three weeks prior to the race due to an ankle injury so I had no idea how my body would respond. My goal was sub 1:15.”

Jesse said his speed is unlikely to increase, in order to prepare his body for New York.

“My preparation between now and City2Surf will involve an increase in weekly mileage, approximately 100km each week, as per coach Mick Rees’ program. I don’t think I’ll get much faster as training intensity will be reduced to allow for increased mileage to take on New York.”

All members of the IMP squad are now back home in their communities and are in training for their next goal – the Sydney City2Surf in August.

Mick Rees, IMP Program Manager and Head Coach, said he was incredibly proud of the squad’s progress and results in such a short amount of time.

“I couldn’t be more proud of them and how far they have come in such a short amount of time.

“The way the squad has embraced the challenges they have faced and responded to their training is a huge credit to them.

“The task now is to continue to stay consistent in their training and academic responsibilities before taking on the Sydney City2Surf in preparation for the New York Marathon trial 30km run in Central Desert on the 25th of September,” he said.

The full IMP results for the Gold Coast Half Marathon held on Sunday 3 July are:

Jesse Thompson (Sydney, NSW) 1:14:35

Zibeon Fielding (Mimili, APY Lands, SA) 1:24:45

Wade Mongta (Bodalla, NSW) 1:37:46

Saliman Bin Juda (Thursday Island, QLD) 1:37:44

Billy Bell (Heywood, VIC) 1:54:22

Wayne Sloane (Condobolin, NSW) 1:44:17

Tahnee Sutton (Adelaide, SA) 1:56:22

Kimberley Benjamin (Broome, WA) 1:58:09

Kristika Kumar (Wreck Bay, NSW) 2:16:32

Candice Love (Murray Bridge, SA) 2:16:32

Jacinta Smith-Robins (Bourke, NSW) 2:24:17

Megan Highfold (Broome, WA) Unable to participate due to injury
All runners are now safely home and training hard for the third camp in August – Sydney’s iconic City 2 Surf event.

The last camp will be held in September and include a 30km test run through Central Australia, which will decide the final team to travel to the Big Apple and take on the world famous New York City Marathon.

We would like to thank everyone who supported the squad, met us at the expo, purchased an IMF supporter shirt and who continue to support and encourage the squad and our Foundation. We can’t wait to continue to share the continued achievements of our 2016 squad and 53 Graduates!