And they’re off… the words that herald the biggest horse race in the Southern Hemisphere are the same ones used to farewell 12 indigenous men and women who are on their way to New York to run in the city’s world-famous marathon.
Among them is Wade Mongta, 19, who hails from the small community of Bodalla, located between Narooma and Moruya on the NSW Far South Coast.
On November 2, the 2016 Indigenous Marathon Project (IMP) squad will depart for the New York City Marathon after six months of training, commitment and dedication.
It’s the first time in IMP history that all 12 runners will be making the journey, and it’s really just the beginning for these remarkable leaders of the future.
The inspirational men and women of the 2016 squad have come from some of Australia’s, and the world’s, most remote communities, and who aim to go even further in celebrating indigenous resilience and achievement.
The New York squad includes: Jessie Thompson, Mt Druitt (NSW) Kimberley Benjamin, Broome (WA) Zibeon Fielding, APY Lands (SA) Megan Highfold, Broome (WA) Saliman Bin Juda, Thursday Island (Qld) Tahnee Sutton, Adelaide (SA) Wade Mongta, Bodalla (NSW) Kristika Kumar, Wreck Bay (NSW) Billy Bell, Heywood (Vic) Candice Love, Murray Bridge (SA) Wayne Sloane, Condobolin (NSW) and Jacinta Smith-Robins, Bourke (NSW).
In addition to their incredible running achievements, the entire squad has successfully gained qualifications with a Certificate III in Fitness, Level 1 Recreational Running, and Sports First Aid and CPR, providing long-term employment pathways and opportunities in health related industries.
The qualification also provides members of the squad with the skills and knowledge to establish running and fitness groups in their communities.
The IMP is a core project of the Indigenous Marathon Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation established in 2009 by world marathon champion Robert de Castella, which annually selects 12 young indigenous people to train for the New York City Marathon and inspire current and future generations of Australia’s Indigenous communities.
The IMP relies on the generous support of the Australian Government Department of Health, Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport, ASICS, QANTAS, Accor, Good Oil Films and the generosity of the public.