John Hill climb­ing a per­sonal moun­tain

Dubbo Photo News - - Sport -

DUBBO Col­lege Year 12 stu­dent John Hill is best known for his box­ing tal­ent but the young­ster has added an­other string to his bow – marathon run­ner!

John joined Bre­war­rina health worker Michaela Skuthorpe and ath­letes from all over Aus­tralia at a work­shop run by marathon leg­end Rob de Castella and his elite coach­ing team who form the In­dige­nous Marathon Project (IMP).

They are in a squad of 12 who are push­ing for po­si­tions in the fi­nal team to run the New York marathon later in the year.

John is not un­used to run­ning on the roads, pulling on his jog­gers for ses­sions with Robert “Gummy” Toomey around Dubbo, but Can­berra’s win­ter chill was a bit dif­fer­ent.

“We all had to rug up with bean­ies, track­suits and warm socks. It was bad enough for Michaela and me, but you should have seen the boys from Broome and Dar­win,” John laughed!

He ac­tu­ally learned about the IMP when Charlie Ma­her came to town to es­tab­lish the Clon­tarf Foun­da­tion, a pro­gram tar­get­ing kids like John to stay en­gaged with school and de­velop their life goals.

“Charlie was at South and I was at Del­roy but that was mainly how I found out about the IMP.”

When John and Michaela ar­rived in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal, they made like-minded friends. Even though they were com­pet­ing for cov­eted places for the trip to the Big Ap­ple, they were more like a big fam­ily and not fiercely against each other.

“Not at all, we’re all work­ing in a team. We all come from all across Aus­tralia. All here for the same pur­pose – to bet­ter our com­mu­nity and stuff,” they cho­rused.

John was full of praise for Dubbo Col­lege.

“The school’s re­ally sup­port­ive, work­ing around me catch­ing up with my work so I can get my HSC fin­ished, and then it’s the NY Marathon,” he of­fered.

Turn the clock back two or three years, would John Hill have seen him­self com­plet­ing the Higher School Cer­tifi­cate?

“No, not at all. And es­pe­cially not with­out Clon­tarf. It has given me ded­i­ca­tion to­wards school and life in gen­eral and makes you work that bit harder, be­ing that leader. It’s a good feel­ing that every­one looks up to you, spe­cially the young ful­las,” he added with real pride in his achieve­ments.

John pointed out that the Clon­tarf Foun­da­tion work­ing with the school means there are plenty of Abo­rig­i­nal kids com­plet­ing their HSC and says there are plenty of role mod­els too. “Clon­tarf is big on that!” He also spoke of the Girls Academy at the Se­nior School.

“It’s keep­ing a lot of us in­volved.”

Michaela Skuthorpe is a health worker in Bre­war­rina.

“I’ve been in the job for about seven years, work­ing around chronic disease and un­der­stand­ing the ef­fects it has on our fam­i­lies and our town,” Michaela said.

She’s al­ways been pas­sion­ate about want­ing to do some­thing about it.

“My goal is to get my peo­ple in good health and it is some­thing I aim to push harder and higher. Each year I set out what I plan to do, not just for my­self but for my com­mu­nity. They re­ally mean so much for me.”

Michaela and John were in Can­berra for train­ing but also up­skilling.

“IMP par­tic­i­pants un­der­take a Cer­tifi­cate 4 in Sport and Re­cre­ation and there is some me­dia train­ing as well, and all ob­tain or up­date their First AID/CPR skills,” Michaela explained.

Both are cir­cum­spect about fi­nal se­lec­tions for New York.

“No one’s ac­tu­ally made the plane to NY yet! Our coaches tell us we just need to stay fo­cussed ev­ery camp we come to and then there is the spe­cific se­lec­tion camp later in the year.”

Nei­ther Michaela nor John are think­ing too far ahead at the mo­ment.

“Rob (de Castella) tells us to work at our own pace.”

They both men­tioned Dubbo man Nathan Ri­ley, who ran in the snow and wind at New York in 2014. He now runs an­other group un­der the Deadly Run­ners Project.

Dubbo Col­lege Year 12 stu­dent John Hill (right) with marathon leg­end Rob de Castella.

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