• ROBERT DE CASTELLA (DEEK)
                • KELLIE O’SULLIVAN
                • NADINE HUNT
                • ADRIAN DODSON-SHAW
                • ELSIE SERIAT
                • AMANDA DENT
                • DILANI ABEYSURYIA
                • LUCY CAMPBELL

Robert De Castella (Deek) – Director

Deeks“I’ve run against people from every race and culture, and whilst we have seen a wonderful representation of Indigenous athletes in the explosive sports such as AFL, league, boxing and sprinting, I’ve been surprised by the lack of Indigenous representation in distance running or the marathon. With research we have discovered that there are no avenues or opportunities for Indigenous long distance runners. I believe that we need to explore the possibilities and beg the question: How do we create champions without opportunity? At the moment, there’s no real culture of distance running amongst Indigenous Australians, but I believe there is potential given the history of endurance evidenced by a nomadic existence, traditional hunting and recorded history of an extraordinary ability to cover vast distances. The overwhelming response we’ve had demonstrates this latent interest in marathon running. I think we have the potential of identifying some real talent

New York takes front stage when it comes to hosting and delivering a truly spectacular marathon. It is a 42.195 kilometer, river of mankind and everything good about our human spirit. What better event than this to take our Indigenous running team to, to highlight their potential on an international stage.”

World Champion Marathon Runner

Robert de Castella is Australia’s greatest ever marathon runner. He set the world record in 1981, became Australia’s first Track and Field World Champion in 1983, won two Commonwealth Games marathons in 1982 and 1986 and dominated the event worldwide for most of the 1980’s.

While he represented Australia at four Olympic Games, finishing 5th, 8th, 10th and 26th, Robert is probably best remembered for the Brisbane Commonwealth Games when he came from over a minute back to catch, and eventually run away from, duel Tanzanian champion JumaIkanga. Robert’s dominance resulted in him being voted World Best Marathoner of the 1980’s decade. In 1983, he was voted Australian of the Year and honoured with an MBE.

In 1986 he was inducted into the Australian Sporting Hall of Fame and in 1990 he was named World Marathon Runner of the Decade by Track and Field News.

As Director of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) for five years in the early 1990s, Robert repositioned the AIS as a centre of excellence after the drugs in sport debacle of the late 80’s. He was also involved in establishing the elite sports system being used today by our Olympic athletes and teams.

In 1995 Robert established his own not for profit company, SmartStart for Kids. SmartStart works through schools to encourage children to be healthy and active. It especially targets escalating obesity, poor nutrition and inactivity and has resulted in large improvements in child fitness and health. The SmartStart longitudinal database of children’s health and fitness statistics has enabled valuable reports to be generated and a range of follow up services for students, parents, schools and government.

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A passion for sport and fundraising were the key factors in luring Kellie from her home in Newcastle to the nation’s capital in April 2014.

“When the opportunity came up to work with the team at IMP, I thought I’d won lotto.  It really is a dream job allowing me to combine my two biggest passions; sport and fundraising.  It’s not everyday an opportunity like this comes available, being able to provide opportunities for others to achieve a goal and lead a healthier life – and of course embrace the thrill that is running.  That was definitely worth a move to this beautiful city.”

“I’m very excited to witness the growth, development and achievements of the IMP squads, Graduates, and the supporters who make it all possible.”

Kellie holds a Bachelor of Communication and a Certificate in Fundraising.

She currently sits on the Fundraising Institute of Australia’s Canberra committee, has a background in Corporate Communication and was the Chair of PULSE, a voluntary medical research fundraising committee of the Hunter Medical Research Institute.


NADINE HUNT – events and education coordinator

Nadine Hunt

Nadine relocated from Cairns to Canberra in 2013 to be part of the Indigenous Marathon Project Team. She was part of the first female squad to run the New York Marathon in 2011.

“I’m very excited to be part of the IMP team, being able to experience it as a squad member, I understand how tough it is for each runner. I respect every single Indigenous male and female for showing the courage to take on the challenge and responsibility to proudly represent their family, friends and community.

I will only continue to be inspired by the amazing people this program discovers. Exciting times ahead!”


Adrian is a 2014 IMP Graduate and became the first Australian Aboriginal man in history to not only land at the North Pole, but also endure the North Pole Marathon, the coldest in the event’s history. Adrian battled -40C temperatures; a stark contrast to his home-town of Broome, WA, where he trained over the summer of 2014 using sand to assimilate snow.

The North Pole adventure was also the first time Adrian had seen snow. The entire trip was one that changed his life.

Adrian has relocated from Broome to Canberra to take on the position as IMP Head Coach and Program Manager, and he’s excited about transitioning from a Graduate to Coach.

“It’s a privilege and honour to be given that opportunity to take up the role of Head Coach/Manger of the IMP from past Coach Mick Rees who coached me. I have been fortunate enough to come through the program in 2014 after missing selection in 2012 going on to complete the New York Marathon 2014 and The North Pole Marathon in 2015.”

“Being the first Indigenous Coach of IMP and a graduate puts me in good stead for the position because I know firsthand what the program is about and the outcomes which is important empowering young leaders and drivers in their communities”.

“Was a tough decision to get outside my comfort zone and leave home and move my family to Canberra. But I strongly believe in the vision and direction in which the project and foundation are going so I’m glad to be a part of it.”




Dilani has extensive accounting, finance and administration experience.

She has over 15 years’ experience as a diverse corporate front-runner in Australia and overseas.  She commenced her career with Earnest & Young in Sri Lanka and expanded her career through Delmege Forsyth and Deloitte in Sri Lanka. When she moved to Australia she first joined Deusburys Nexia a leading Chartered Accountancy firm in Canberra.

Dilani’s role at IMF involves working closely with the Board of Directors and IMF’s partners including lawyers, bankers, advisors and government officials.

Dilani’s intellect and experience, coupled with her warm and engaging personal style will see as an excellent advocate for IMF externally and within our organisation.


The opportunity to work for the IMF was too good to resist for journalist Lucy Campbell, who, after 20 years working in newspapers, magazines and books, welcomed the career change.

“I’d watched the ABC documentary Running to America in 2010 and thought then what a fabulous project it was, so to be able to be a part of a great team working on real life-changing projects was too good to be true. The achievements of the runners involved with the IMF are truly inspiring.’’

Lucy holds an honours degree in English Literature from James Cook University and balances family life with a love of distance running.

‘’It’s a great time to get involved with the IMF as projects develop and opportunities grow across Australia. I’m really looking forward to doing what I can to get our message out there. I’m also hoping to improve my own running – no excuses now when I see what other people are doing!”