top of page

Marathon Man, Jack Stevens on a mission to compete in New York City's Marathon in November

Narrm local heeds the mighty call of the New York City Marathon

Out of over 170 applicants, Melbourne (Narrm) local Jack Stevens a Gunggandji man has been named as one of twelve young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from across Australia selected to join the 2023 Indigenous Marathon Project for the 42.2km TCS New York City Marathon in November. Jack is my special guest around 8.30am.

Jack will have just six short months to train for the biggest marathon in the world, in the biggest city in the world. Whilst Jack is no stranger to the world of athletics and citing exercise as a way to maintain his mental health, he is yet to tackle distance running with a formidable journey ahead of him.

A program that has garnered traction across many running and Indigenous communities throughout Australia alike, the Indigenous Marathon Project (IMP) is a six-month health, leadership, and development program—transforming the lives of its participants while opening doors they may not have once dared to knock at.

IMP Squad members hail from all corners of the country, tracing the west coast from Perth up to the Kimberley’s, through The Rivers in central Australia, across to Thursday Island and Townsville, and down to the southern States—each with a strong sense of purpose and determination as they lace up to begin training for one of the most challenging and rewarding journeys of their lifetime—from little to no running, to running a marathon in just six short months.

Jack is a Gunggandji man who was born in raised in Darwin. He works at Murrup Barak, at the University of Melbourne as an Indigenous Student Success Officer, supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

And whilst the IMP journey is a personal one full of growth and transformation, Jack’s journey is also about inspiring the community around him, and starting his own powerful ripple effects.

“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,” Jack says.

“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. I can’t wait to meet the other members of the 2023 squad and get started!”

Jack has begun training for his first 10km event in Canberra next month under the guise of world marathon champion and Olympian, and founder of the Indigenous Marathon Foundation Rob de Castella—following in the footsteps of the 132 IMP Graduates who have undergone the journey before him.

In addition to completing a qualification in Indigenous Leadership and Health Promotion, the 2023 IMP squad will also complete a Level 1 Recreational Running Coach course, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health First Aid course and a Sports First Aid course to support their personal growth, physical literacy, and to strengthen their influence as change makers.

Off the back of the powerful transformations exemplified by last year’s IMP Squad, de Castella says he is excited to return to New York again, where the program began in 2009.

“Selecting a squad of twelve from over 170 amazing applicants is tough, but we look for two things. Firstly, when they hit the “marathon wall’ at 30k, and their body has given up, but they still have 12k to go, what will they draw deep on to get them to the finish line; and secondly, do we see in them the capacity to be a ‘change agent’ an inspirational and positive role model for family, community, and Australia. I can’t wait to unleash Jack on the marathon,” said de Castella.

“Running an international marathon provides an opportunity to not only represent their families and communities, but our entire continent as well. One where they will be exposed to the ‘world’ of marathon, the biggest sport in the world running side by side with all cultures, ages, and abilities. One where they will showcase their true purpose and return home with memories and stories to last a lifetime as impactful, influential, and powerful role models and change agents within their communities.”

But Rob says a ticket to New York isn’t guaranteed. Squad members need to commit to their rigorous training schedule, continue to lead positively by example within their communities, and complete all educational components before they are offered an entry into the New York City Marathon.

Schedule of IMP education workshops and coinciding running events for 2023 IMP program:

9 – 14 May Canberra Mother’s Day Classic (10km) – 14 May

27 June – 2 July Gold Coast Running Festival (21.1km) – 2 July

9 – 13 August Home Based/Community Event (25km) – 13 August

26 September – 1 October Alice Springs Test Event (30km) – 1 October

30 October – 7 November New York City Marathon (42.2km) – 5 November


bottom of page