Centennial Park shines on WARRIOR Runners

Mother Nature presented her Spring best to celebrate strength, resilience and nobility at the third annual Father’s Day WARRIOR Run in Sydney’s Centennial Park on Sunday 3 September.

Nearly 550 participants- mums, dads, kids, and fur babies – crossed the line in various distances including 2km kids’ dash, 5km and 10km run/walk.

The “WARRIOR” theme is part of Deek’s vision to acknowledge all men, particularly Indigenous men, in their traditional role as protectors of their family and respected community members.

Indigenous men from The Glen Centre, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre located on the Central Coast, performed traditional Indigenous dance and narrated the symbolic story behind each dance. The crowd was mesmerised and it was an spectacular opportunity to showcase Australia’s culture; the oldest living culture in the world.

The men also painted WARRIOR markings on male participants, while female participants had dots on their faces painted by an Indigenous female.

This year, 2014 IMP Graduate Harold Matthew from Thursday Island (TI) in the Torres Strait, was the face of the WARRIOR Run medal, acknowledging Harold’s continued strength, commitment and determination to be the change in his community and family. Harold follows fellow featured Graduates, Charlie Maher (2010 Graduate featured in 2015), and Luke McKenzie (2013 Graduate featured in 2016).

Harold addressed the crowd and explained how IMP changed his life.

“Before IMP, I was doing all the wrong things. I was drinking too much and not being healthy. Then I was selected in IMP and I won’t go back to those ways. I want to keep running and being healthy and being an example for my family and community,” he said.

Thursday Island has experienced a running revolution since Harold, and fellow 2014 IMP Graduate, Elsie Seriat, were selected in IMP. Nobody ran. It was unheard of.

Fast-forward three years, and you’d be struggling to find someone who doesn’t run or doesn’t support Harold and Elsie in their ongoing successes. The Thursday Island Running Festival (TIRF) is held each year in October and attracts nearly 400 people from TI and neighbouring island. Deadly Running Groups are a popular fitness session and many locals have participated in 10km, 21km and marathon races – nationally and internationally.

Harold was joined on the day by fellow Graduates Nadine Hunt (2011), Nat Heath (2012) who kept the crowed entertained as emcee along with IMF ambassador, Dave Robertson, Australia’s favourite Ninja Warrior Jack Wilson (2013), Elsie Seriat (2014), and John Leha (2015).

Today’s event solidified a WARRIOR weekend, with all parkruns around the country embracing the theme on Saturday 2 September. Many IMP Graduates attended parkruns nation-wide to spread the significance of the WARRIOR theme, Australia’s Indigenous culture, and the importance of strong, proud and resilient men in families and communities.

Many parkrunners purchased WARRIOR Run medals featuring Harold, to support the special event. Medals are still available for purchase if you haven’t yet ordered!

Special mention to all sponsors and partners who made the event possible including:

  • Accor Hotels
  • Centennial Parklands
  • Pont3
  • NCIE
  • Make Healthy Normal
  • Yaanma
  • TJS Services
  • Athletics Australia
  • Athletics NSW
  • parkrun Australia
  • The Glen
  • Clarety/Net Strategies
  • Derek Samuel Design
  • Australian Olympic Committee
  • Run4YourLife
  • Runner’s Tribe
Thank everyone who has supported the WARRIOR parkruns or the main event in Sydney and supporting the IMF. The Foundation relies heavily on the support of the community to continue providing pathways and life-changing opportunities to Australia’s Indigenous population.

In the echo of Deek, the harder the struggle, the greater the reward.

Thank you, WARRIORS, for spending your Father’s Day and parkrun with IMF. Our gratitude knows no bounds. You are all contributing to significant change.

Click here to view an album of photos from the event (more pics to come).