As many of you many know, Susana is a runner. She is also a strong supporter of her running community, and has encouraged many people (especially women) to take up running. Last year, I signed up for a virtual marathon through the Indigenous Marathon Project (IMP), which raises funds to assist Indigenous runners in Australia. Susana wasn't able to run last year, and so I presented her with my IMP medal. I hope it encourages others to also support healthy lifestyles in Indigenous communities.
The IMP supports Indigenous peoples in Australia to take up marathon running as a means of promoting a healthy lifestyle. Running is an ideal means of changing lives. It is accessible to any age, ability and location and can provide a tremendous sense of achievement. The IMP was set up by Robert de Castella in 2010. De Castella is an Australian marathon runner who set the world record for the marathon in 1981, and dominated the event in the 1980s.
The IMP selects a group of young Indigenous men and women every year to complete the New York City marathon after just six months of training. De Castella hoped that competing in the New York marathon would highlight the talent of Indigenous runners in Australia, and would unearth future champions. Runners also complete a Certificate in Fitness, and this qualification helps graduates to become role models who promote health and physical exercise to address chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and renal failure in Indigenous communities. IMP’s runners can now be seen at many major running events in Australia and internationally.
One of the ways in which the IMP raises funding to support Indigenous runners is through a virtual run. The virtual run was started in 2014, and is run every December. Participants register with the virtual run by making a donation to the IMP, and then tracking the number of kilometres that they run or walk throughout December. Participants can set their own goals, for instance they may want to accumulate 42.2 km throughout December, or run their first 5 km event. At the end of December, all participants receive a medal from the IMP.
Further information on the IMP can be found at: http://imf.org.au/ and on facebook.