It’s the city that never sleeps, and on Sunday, Bodalla’s Wade Mongta was central to the action as he completed the New York marathon.
Wade ran the 42km course in a time of 4 hours, 18 minutes and 58 seconds, just over two hours behind winner Ghirmay Ghebreslassie.
The 19 year old was one of 12 Aboriginal men and women selected for the race as part of the Indigenous Marathon Project, and travelled overseas for the first time to take part in the iconic race. And he said he was blown away by the experience.
“It was better than anything I could've imagined,” he said. “Nothing could have prepared me for being part of an event like that. All the spectators who came out to watch really spurred me on to the finish.”
It was the culmination of six months training for Wade and his IMP counterparts, who have been working towards the marathon since May.
Their preparation has included the City to Surf fun run, the Gold Coast Half Marathon, and a 30km test run at Alice Springs in September.
Mongta said the journey he has shared with the other members of the squad meant he was well-equipped to deal with the final step of the project.
“I was pretty calm before the race," he said. “I’d put all the hard work in so I just needed to back myself. I was going out there with 11 runners from Australia who were all there for the same purpose, so I knew they had my back as well. It was the best feeling in the world to cross the finish line.”
The day was of special significance to Indigenous Marathon Project Foundation director and former world champion runner, Rob de Castella, who travelled to New York with the group. He commended the 2016 group on their achievements throughout the year.
“There is no place like New York, and there is no run anywhere on the planet like the famous New York City Marathon,’’ Rob said. “It is one of the biggest, most exciting and toughest marathons, so it’s an extraordinary achievement for all 12 runners to qualify for it.
“These 12 young Indigenous leaders are following in the footsteps of 53 other Indigenous Marathon Project graduates, who since 2010, have ignited a culture of distance running across indigenous Australia. I am so excited to again see a group of amazing Australians pass this massive physical, emotional and spiritual test.”