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Sun, surf and study as Indigenous runners take on Gold Coast half

Indigenous Marathon Foundation

The Indigenous Marathon Foundation runners preparing for the ASICS Half Marathon this weekend.


The 2017 squad of the Indigenous Marathon Project will converge on the Gold Coast this weekend to run their first half-marathon as part of their training for the New York City Marathon in November. With beautiful weather, a fast, flat course and the chance for squad members to reconnect, the Gold Coast Airport Marathon is always a big event in the IMF calendar, and the longest run yet for the squad to take on.

Indigenous Marathon Foundation director Rob de Castella said he was looking forward to seeing the six men and six women reunited after weeks of training apart.

”It is getting very real for our 2017 IMP squad!” Rob said. “They step up from no running to the half-marathon this weekend, and continue their Cert IV Sport & Rec studies. This run will be the longest and the biggest running event they have ever participated in, many never having run in a local fun run before. But they won’t be alone – we have 15 IMP graduates also running across the weekend, so there is plenty of inspiration, support and encouragement for them.

“It’s going to be a great weekend!”

For Alice Springs man Roy “Billy” Tilmouth, the scale and location of the event add to the excitement of the ASICS Half Marathon, despite dealing with injury set-backs.

“I’ve never participated in something this big before and I think it’s going to be a great atmosphere there on the day,” Billy said.

In addition to the half-marathon, the squad will also work on the educational component of the program, which must be completed for runners to be eligible to run in New York. And on day one of Gold Coast camp, the squad were put through a high intensity training session with 2013 IMP graduate Jack Wilson, the star of Channel Nine’s soon-to-air action show Australian Ninja Warrior, before hitting the classroom.

For Warilla, NSW man Layne Brown, the weekend was about stepping outside his comfort zone.

“I’m looking forward to trying something that I’ve never done before and seeing all the other squad members who have hopefully been on track towards their running goals as well,” Layne said.

“Training has been quite enjoyable. The real triumph for me so far is my pace – my running is slowly improving but it doesn’t feel like I’m using extra energy or running any harder, which is surreal. It’s nice to look back on what was once a pretty hard run to what is now just a stroll.

“This will truly be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and it makes me feel amazing to explore life outside my comfort zone,” Layne said.

Queanbeyan, NSW woman Cara Smith has been bracing below freezing temperatures in her pre-dawn runs around Queanbeyan and Canberra.

“I’ve really missed everyone,” Cara said. “I’m so excited to see what this camp has in store for us and am excited to learn more from the amazing IMP team.


“The encouragement my family and friends have given me in the last few weeks has helped me with getting through some tough mornings – especially when the weather has been -3 degrees!”

All the way from WA, Natasha Shires of Karratha said she’d had an emotional time dealing with the death of her much loved grandmother, but “I’ve been pushing through, and I’m dedicating this run to the memory of my beautiful nana”.

For Broome man Scott Cox, a highlight was going to be tackling the 21km distance.

“I know it’ll be hard with my sore knee,” Scott said, “but I got a PB on my 15km run so I’m looking forward to going further.”

The squad will meet for a supporters’ run on Friday afternoon with Main Beach parkrun, before heading down to the finish line and cheering home graduates, supporters and Rob de Castella in the 10km run on Saturday.

After the Gold Coast camp, runners will return to their communities and start training for the next high-profile event in their diaries… the Sun-Herald City2Surf.

The 39th annual Gold Coast Airport Marathon will be held this Saturday 1 and Sunday 2 July.

Set to attract more than 27,000 participants of all ages and abilities, this year’s race program will feature the Gold Coast Airport Marathon over 42.2km, Wheelchair Marathon, ASICS Half Marathon, Southern Cross University 10km Run, The Star Gold Coast 5.7km Challenge, Zespri 4km Junior Dash and Zespri 2km Junior Dash.

For the fourth year, the Gold Coast Airport Marathon has been awarded an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Road Race Gold Label.

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