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5 August, 2021

Training on Country

FOR many athletes the opportunity to train in Cairns during winter is an opportunity that does not come often.

By Peter McCullagh

For 11 members of the 2021 Indigenous Marathon Project (IMP) this weekend will be a mixture of workshops, training, a 25km run along with a cultural experience.

COVID restrictions may have impacted upon their training in recent times reducing their last camp to a virtual experience, but this hiccup has only strengthened their collective purpose and desire to run.

The runners will tackle the 25km training course at The Rocks Reserve in Redlynch Valley on Saturday morning.

Girramay and Gooreng Gooreng woman and Cairns local Rachel Dean, member of the 2021 IMP squad says she is excited for the squad to converge in Cairns.

“I was over the moon when I found out our third IMP Camp will be in Cairns, because not only is Cairns home for me residentially, but also culturally as well”, Rachel said

“Cairns is Gimuy Walaburra Yidinji Country and it happens to be my neighbouring Country.

“I can’t wait to share this experience with the IMP squad culturally, spiritually and physically. Running truly brings people together and I’m so grateful that I get this opportunity to create ripple effects.”

Dean spent many years as a middle distance runner before moving to the longer event in the sport.

“I love running. It’s very calming and gives me a feeling of control and helps me to focus.”

IMP Head Coach Damian Tuck shared that the squad is a culmination of dedication and adversarial growth.

“It’s been a big few months for the IMP squad with many of them juggling work, study, family commitments and the impacts of COVID-19, all while putting their physical limits to the test.”

“I’m eager to see their commitment and hard work pay off when they cross that 25km mark” Tuck said.

In addition to conquering the 25km run which is their longest run to date, the IMP squad will complete components of the Certificate IV in Indigenous Leadership and Health Promotion facilitated by the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre and complete a Level 1 Recreational Running Coach course.

South Australian IMP squad members unable to travel will be completing these education sessions virtually and will run their 25km race in Adelaide supported by local IMP Graduates and Indigenous Marathon Foundation (IMF) supporters.

Founder and Director of the Indigenous Marathon Foundation, and four-time Olympian Rob de Castella encouraged IMP squad members to nurture their purpose and be proud of their story.

“With the Tokyo Olympics in full swing, it is easy to be dazzled by the glory and records. But IMP is not about winning on the world stage, it is about far more. It is about being the inspiration and leaders to change lives and drive positive change. Running takes you beyond the superficiality of discomfort requiring you to draw upon your purpose and something deep inside you to do what you have to do,”

“That’s what is going to get them across the finish line,” De Castella said.

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