A marathon the long way round

Dubbo Photo News - - Emergency issues - By JOHN RYAN

LAST month Dubbo’s John Hill of­fi­cially fin­ished his Year 12 stud­ies.

Not that long ago it was con­sid­ered a mighty achieve­ment for an Indige­nous kid from out west, but he’s part of a new gen­er­a­tion that’s show­ing it should all be part of a new “nor­mal”.

And he hasn’t just been study­ing – his ex­tra-cur­ric­u­lar life has been hec­tic.

He’s spent much of his life grow­ing up in a box­ing ring, his com­mit­ment and de­ter­mi­na­tion earn­ing him the NSW Fly­weight ti­tle.

It wasn’t just the train­ing and ac­tual fights, most evenings you could find him at Gummy’s Gym in Dubbo either sweep­ing the floors or tak­ing younger kids un­der his wing and giv­ing them a few tips.

His lat­est ven­ture has been train­ing with the 2018 squad of the Indige­nous Marathon Project (IMP).

The par­tic­i­pants have one goal in com­mon: to use run­ning to drive change and cel­e­brate Indige­nous achieve­ment.

John par­tic­i­pated in the Gold Coast half marathon and Syd­ney’s fa­mous City to Surf, but his big­gest hur­dle was a 30km test run through Alice Springs – run­ners who didn’t last that chal­lenge missed out on the ul­ti­mate goal – this week’s New York City Marathon.

To get to the Big Ap­ple, the run­ners had to prove not only that they could last the desert heat in the Alice, but also com­plete their ed­u­ca­tion com­po­nent, which gives them the skills and con­fi­dence to be­come role mod­els in their com­mu­ni­ties when their year in the IMP squad is over.

The IMP is a lead­er­ship pro­gram of the Indige­nous Marathon Foun­da­tion, a not-for-profit foun­da­tion es­tab­lished by Rob de Castella and each year a squad of 12 young Indige­nous men and women are se­lected to train for John Hill will run the fa­mous New York Marathon in a few days’ time. He’s pic­tured near Alice Springs in Septem­ber where he ran a 30km test run in prepa­ra­tion for the big race. PHOTO: INDIGE­NOUS MARATHON PROJECT

the New York City Marathon, com­plete a com­pul­sory ed­u­ca­tion com­po­nent which in­cludes a Cer­tifi­cate IV in Sport & Rec, me­dia train­ing, coach­ing ac­cred­i­ta­tion, and a Men­tal Health First Aid Abo­rig­i­nal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der course.

Com­ple­tion of this alone cel­e­brates Indige­nous re­silience and suc­cess.

Par­tic­i­pants have come from re­mote com­mu­ni­ties, from cities and towns across Aus­tralia, from di­verse back­grounds, each with their own unique set of chal­lenges. And in just a few days’ time, on No­vem­ber 4, when they line up at the start of the New York City Marathon, cross­ing the fin­ish line will also sig­nify the start of the next chap­ter of their jour­ney.

For­mer world cham­pion run­ner and Indige­nous Marathon Foun­da­tion di­rec­tor, Rob de Castella, said the squad has shown com­mit­ment

and ded­i­ca­tion as they jug­gle work, fam­ily and study with the rigours of their train­ing pro­grams.

“These 11 young men and women have been se­lected from over 140 ap­pli­cants, as young lead­ers. In life the hard things can break you, or they can make you strong,” Mr de Castella said.

“All these young Indige­nous Aus­tralians have strug­gled, and they have used this hard­ship to fuel their hunger for change. It is a priv­i­lege to take them on this jour­ney, so they can make a real and sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence to their fam­i­lies, com­mu­ni­ties and Aus­tralia.”

With many of the squad com­ing from non-run­ning back­grounds, all that they have learnt about them­selves over the last seven months will be put to the test when they take on one of the big­gest races in the world, in one

of the big­gest cities in the world. And for each run­ner, the an­tic­i­pa­tion is build­ing.

John Hill said he is look­ing for­ward to ex­pe­ri­enc­ing New York City and fo­cus­ing on com­plet­ing the race.

“Just to fin­ish, no ex­pec­ta­tion on per­for­mance, just get­ting across that fin­ish line,” Mr Hill said.

He was in­spired by IMP grad­u­ates Char­lie Ma­her and Nathan Ri­ley to try out for the project.

“See­ing Char­lie and Nathan and the pos­i­tive im­pact on com­mu­nity in­spired me to do the same.

“I have re­alised how much of a leader I can be and re­al­is­ing how young kids in the com­mu­nity look up to you and the dif­fer­ence one per­son can make,” he said.

John will be think­ing of his Dad and his fam­ily to get him across the fin­ish line. KYAN the Chee­tah has been busy look­ing af­ter her six cubs since they were born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo on June 6, and now the cubs have gone on pub­lic dis­play for the first time.

The six, born to Kyan and fa­ther Jana, had been kept be­hind-thescenes since birth to give them a chance to bond with mum, grow and de­velop.

The Chee­tah cubs have been given African-in­spired names by their keep­ers – the three males are Bo­mani mean­ing war­rior, Radi mean­ing light­ing, and Den­zel mean­ing wild one who is gen­tle, while the three fe­males are Asha mean­ing life, Zola mean­ing quiet one, and Adayzay mean­ing king’s daugh­ter.

“Kyan will likely be a bit ner­vous for the first few days try­ing to keep an eye on all six cubs in a larger space, but we don’t think it will take long for them all to set­tle in and start ex­plor­ing,” Chee­tah keeper Jor­dan Michel­more said.

“At present the cubs are most ac­tive dur­ing the morn­ings and after­noons of­ten rest­ing across the mid­dle of the day how­ever, we aren’t sure if this be­hav­iour will con­tinue now they are on ex­hibit.”

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