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Australian Olympians participate in Deadly Fun Run Championships

18 July 2015

AOC: Over 100 Indigenous runners participated in the 2015 Indigenous Marathon Project's Deadly Fun Run Championships in Uluru this morning to celebrate the 30 year anniversary of the handing back of world famous landmark to its traditional owners.

The Deadly Fun Run Series (DFRS) is an initiative by the Indigenous Marathon Foundation (IMF) that introduces running and walking to remote communities in a fun, non-intimidating environment for indigenous men, women and children.

IMF Founder and Director, Rob de Castella said this morning’s event was great, “it was deadly.”

“We had a record number of runners here and a record number of communities participating,” he said.

Olympian and World Champion marathon runner, Robert de Castella established IMF as a charity organisation in 2009, with the goal to use running as a tool to drive change and celebrate Indigenous resilience and achievement.

“I love seeing the kids participate, but also the older Aboriginal men and women getting involved,” he said.

De Castella said having the support of the Australian Olympic Committee at the Deadly Fun Run Championships was incredibly inspiring to the young Indigenous children participating.

The AOC had a team of five athletes supporting the run made up of Indigenous Olympians Kyle Vander-Kuyp, Des Abbott, Beki Smith along with prospective Rio team member, Tanisha Stanton, who is an Indigenous athlete in the Australian women’s seven rugby squad and Beijing Kayak bronze medallist, Hannah Davis.

Vander-Kuyp said he ran alongside, Kendall a young primary school boy from Alice Springs for the 3km Junior event.

“We ran together chatting for the whole race, and we finished together, I felt such a buzz and was so happy to be involved in this run,” he said.

Junior runners completed a 3km course, while the senior athletes ran a slightly longer loop of 5km.

Launched in 2012, the Deadly Fun Run Series consist of running and walking events and training groups coordinated by IMF, but are mainly owned and run by the communities, primarily by the local Indigenous IMP squad member.  

Each year, the IMF selects a squad of 12 Indigenous Australian men and women aged 18-30 to train for the world famous New York City marathon; with just six months of training.

These individuals will work with IMP staff and local volunteers and support agencies using their skills attained by completing their Certificate IV in Health and Leisure to deliver a successful event.

Today’s participants were made up of four champions (male and female juniors and seniors) who were selected from communities around Australia to represent their people at the Championships, with selection being based on performance, improvement, consistency and participation.

Evelyna Garayal from the Elcho Island community who participated in the 5km said her run was awesome.

“It was awesome, deadly and so cool to run around the outback,” she said.

These indigenous runners were joined by a number of corporate teams, including the Australian Olympic Committee, who were on site to run alongside participants and help with official duties.  

In its initial years, the Championships consisted of a combined of a 1km run/walk and a 3-5km run throughout Australian communities, and the program has now grown to at least four monthly fun run or walks.

With running and walking is not currently recognised as a sport within many indigenous communities, IMF’s main purpose is encouraging participation which is rewarded through prize incentives for age group categories and random participation.

Many of this morning’s participants will run in the 30 year Anniversary Relay-run around the base of Uluru to celebrate the handing back of this iconic natural landmark to the traditional owners from the Mutujulu community.  

Ashleigh Knight

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