One step at a time
Ngunnawal man and New York Marathon qualifier Jesse Thompson uses running to drive change in indigenous communities.
ONE step at a time, Jesse Thompson is making a difference in the indigenous community around Mt Druitt.
Thompson, 24, of Hassall Grove, is set to run in the New York City Marathon on November 6.
But the race means much more to him than simply crossing the finish line.
Thompson was one of 12 runners selected from hundreds of applicants, chosen to participate in the event as part of the Indigenous Marathon Project.
The project uses running as a vehicle to drive change.
After an unsuccessful attempt last year, Thompson came back stronger than ever and gained entry this year.
Without a background in running, Thompson told The
Standard he was shocked to have been selected.
“I have always done sport but not to the extent of a marathon so it was a bit of a step up,” he said.
“I tried out last year and didn’t make it, and I just thought I wasn’t going to get in again. I was over the moon,” he said.
Thompson belongs to the Ngunnawal people and says running is his way of empowering his community to end a destructive cycle.
“We can break this cycle of violence and drugs to lead long, healthy and safe lifestyles,” he said.
Marathon Project head coach Mick Rees said he could not have picked a better candidate.
“It is hard to get knocked down and get back up, so Jesse really showed he was committed enough by reapplying,” Rees said.
“What stood out about Jesse was his passion for being a positive role model for the indigenous people of Mt Druitt. He is talented physically — he works and trains hard and he epitomises what it means to have a goal. Strong communities are built upon people like Jesse — he is the future of the country.”
Thompson will spend the next few months training for the 42km event at training camps across the country.
Rees said the lead-up to the marathon would be a challenge. “We want to make it as hard as possible,” he said.
“The more someone has to earn something, the more it means. We want to push them to their physical and mental limits so they can see what amazing people they are.”
Thompson said the training camps had only cemented his motivation.
“In Canberra last week, I was fortunate enough to visit the Ngunnawal area where my indigenous heritage is from – it was really special,” he said.
“When I met everyone involved we all connected ... it was so encouraging and motivating ... I can’t wait.”