My name is Sissy Eileen Austin. I am a Gunditjmara, Keerray Woorroong, Djap Wurrung woman. I acknowledge my family, my Elders and our culture. Sissy has been chosen to compete in this year’s New York Marathon. Prior to her selection into the Indigenous Marathon Project, Sissy Austin had run 21km, and is determined to cross the marathon finish line.
Sissy says “I applied for the IMP because I have been so inspired over the years seeing community members such as IMP Graduate Jess Lovett-Murray complete the program. I really want to challenge myself physically and mentally to inspire both myself and my community. I envision the journey to be one of healing and growing as a Koorie woman. I feel like being selected for IMP is a dream come true, and I want to give back to everyone that has held and believed in me.”
Sissy suffered a stress reaction early in her IMP journey and a lot of her training has been done in the pool through deep water running. Her journey of recovering from injury whilst building her strength and fitness has been absolutely inspirational.
Running a marathon is a momentous achievement, but running a marathon overseas is an added layer of significance, one where they will not only represent their families and communities, but our entire continent as well. 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.
Points of interest: • 30km run in Alice Springs last month. This was their marathon selection run; they started under the moon and ran with the sunrise. Majority of the run was on a highway, fairly isolated. Longest run to date. All squad members who attended completed the run and were selected to go to New York
• The squad will fly out to New York on November 1, the marathon is on November 5 • 50,000 people participate in the NYC Marathon each year, and there are 1 million spectators along the course through the five boroughs of NYC • There are 132 IMP Graduates to date • 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