A marathon the long way round
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.”