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Breaking Barriers: Meet the Young Indigenous Runners Ready to Conquer the New York Marathon

Jack Stevens (Gunggandji) born and raised in Darwin but lives in Melbourne, and works at Monash University as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Communities Engagement Manager in the Faculty of Engineering. Jack says “I applied for IMP to become a better positive and healthy role model to my community.

I’ve had a couple of friends go through the IMP program in recent years and have been inspired by their journeys to not only complete a marathon but continue to embed health lifestyle choices within their communities. Exercise has always been a part of my life and I find is key to maintaining positive mental health.

“IMP was an opportunity to continue growing as a positive and healthy role model to both my family and community, as well as taking on the challenge of running a marathon in New York, “I hope to learn and build the skills to help others with their own healthy lifestyle journeys whether that’s running, walking, or even getting into some form of physical activity.

Young Indigenous change-makers to conquer 42km challenge. On November 5, the lives of ten young First Nations people will change forever. This is the day they will earn the title of a marathoner, joining less than one percent of the world’s population.

They’ve come from remote communities, from cities and towns across Australia, from diverse backgrounds, each with their own set of experiences, triumphs, and challenges. But the 2023 squad of the Indigenous Marathon Project (IMP) have one goal in common—to lead by example and use running to drive change.

And in less than a month on November 5, when they line up at the start of the New York City Marathon, crossing the finish line will also propel them into their next chapter, with the finish line revealing the start of their change-making journey.

With many of the squad coming from non-running backgrounds, the powerful things they have learnt about themselves over the last six months will be tested when they take on the biggest marathon in the world, in the biggest city of the world, one step at a time on the streets of New York City.

It’s a long way from their home communities, but the 2023 IMP Squad will be invited to take solace in following in the courageous footsteps of the 132 IMP Graduates that have undertaken the challenging journey before them. And it is here they will join 50,000 international runners as they march down streets collectively lined with one million spectators. Final selection for the New York City Marathon is determined by those runners who have committed to their training throughout the year and successfully completed a 30km test run in Alice Springs. But their selection extends beyond just running.

Selection into the final marathon squad also hinges on the completion of their education and leadership component, which gives them the skills and confidence to become impactful role models in their communities when they return from their international achievement.

List of 2023 IMP Marathon Squad / Heritage Location

Sissy Austin - Gunditjmara Kirrae Whurrong Djab Wurrung Ballarat, VIC Jamie Collins – Eastern Arrernte Darwin, NT Peter Farrell - Alawa, Rambarrenna and Myilli Beswick, NT Joel Etherington – Gunai Kurnai, Yuin, Palawa Airds, NSW Arthur Pitt - Murray (Mer) Island, and Darnley (Erub) Island Perth, WA Jobastin Priest – Wambaya, Garraw Gudanji Darwin / Borroloola, NT Faith Stevens - Yolngu Canberra / Galiwin’ku, NT Jack Stevens - Gunggandji Melbourne, VIC Lauren Vanson - Ngarrindjeri Murray Bridge, SA Jade Ware - St. Paul’s Community (Wug Village) Moa Island, Atambya Townsville, QLD


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