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8 October, 2021

Marathon effort deliver reward for Dean

GIRRAMAY and Gooreng Gooreng woman and Cairns local Rachel Dean, member of the 2021 Indigenous Marathon Program (IMP) squad, has been named as one of 13 starters for her first marathon this month.

By Peter McCullagh

IMP Coach Damian Tuck, and Founder and Director of the IMF and four-time Olympian Robert de Castella held a special Zoom meeting formally announcing the thirteen runners who will advance to the final stage of their six-month program after recently completing a 30km trial race.

Rob de Castella said the selection of the final marathon squad goes beyond their commitment to their training plans, or how quick they can complete a run and includes completing education components, promoting health, and displaying strong leadership values.

“The selection to join the marathon line-up isn’t given or guaranteed at any point during the IMP journey. It’s earnt. And this years’ squad have rightfully earnt their place by putting in the work and facing many tests, including navigating one of the toughest IMP years yet due to the major national impacts of COVID-19”, said de Castella.

And for the 2021 IMP squad members, their purpose to complete a marathon aligns with that message and extends far beyond running, with many squad members using their IMP journey as a platform to break the cycle of intergenerational trauma, to normalise discussions around mental health among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and to become the best versions of themselves.

The privilege of heading to New York has not been possible for the 2021 IMP squad due to international COVID-19 travel restrictions, and instead the squad will complete their significant race in two special hubs across Alice Springs and Canberra on October 23.

IMP Coach Damian Tuck said whilst navigating COVID-19 restrictions has been challenging, the experience has only reinforced how united and strong the squad is.

“We have all remained totally committed to the IMP program and although we have been divided by distance our goal remains; the squad will run the marathon this year and join the growing list of IMP Graduates as strong, resilient and empowered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young men and women”, said Tuck.

“The squad’s resilience in challenging times; their commitment to each other and to the IMF, and their ability to push through their physical and mental boundaries to make the final squad completely fills me with pride and admiration. I can’t wait for the squad to take it to the next level and get the job done”.

Tuck said it’s more important now than ever for the squad to remain focused and dedicated to the task at hand.

“I spoke with the squad about the significance of making the 2021 IMP marathon team and what an amazing effort that was, but we acknowledge the job is not yet done. The squad will continue to focus on ticking the box on each of their training sessions, each of their recovery sessions and making sure their diet and nutrition is spot on as we taper a week or so out from the marathon”, said Tuck.

“Our education program is also a major component of the IMP and squad members will also continue to complete their Cert IV in Indigenous Leadership and Health Promotion as we approach the marathon”.

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