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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Rob DeCastella guides indigenous youth to NY marathon

Rob DeCastella guides indigenous youth to NY marathon

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Indigenous boys undertake a 17km run around Lake
Burley Griffin yesterday.

Indigenous youths pound pavements

Canberra Times
25 May, 2011

There's only one way to prepare for a marathon and that's with hours of hard work, as a group of 11 indigenous boys found out in Canberra over the past four days.

They had a four-day training camp at the AIS as part of the Marathon Project which has been set up to help promote running in indigenous communities around Australia.

A squad of 12 boys and eight girls has been assembled, of which six boys and four girls will get the chance to run in the New York Marathon in November.

Those who miss out will compete in a domestic marathon, or one in Japan or Europe.

The camp concluded yesterday with a 17km run around Lake Burley Griffin.

Kiwa Schilling comes from Kanmantoo in the Adelaide Hills, which has a population of about 70 people, and he's excited about the chance to run in front of thousands of spectators in the Big Apple.

''It'd be a good experience to have to go to New York,'' he said.

''I'd love to go there, it's just about how far I push myself to get there.''

The Mt Barker High Year 11 student was introduced to the program through the school's Aboriginal worker and had never run that far before yesterday.

It didn't prove too much of a problem for the 17-year-old who finished fourth.

''The only long distance running is the 1500m at school and the only consistent running I've ever done was the 5-k time trial we had to do to get in [to the program],'' Schilling said.

His only major concern was with his shoulders, not his legs, due to a rib injury he received while playing Australian football for the Nairne Rams.

Michael Purcell, from Charleville in remote south-west Queensland, finished third in the run.

He had never heard of former world champion marathon runner Robert de Castella until after he became involved in the program.

''I met him [de Castella] in Brisbane for the tryouts, he said his name and I thought he was a trainer or something,'' Purcell said.

''But when I got back home my parents and family were saying, 'Have you met Robert de Castella?'

''And I was, 'Yeah, why was that?'

'' 'You know he's a world champion?'

''... I was talking to a world champion and I didn't even know it.''

All the runners are also studying a Certificate III in Community Recreation as part of the program, which is run by de Castella and coach Tim Rowe.

De Castella said there were two objectives for the project.

''A part of the program is to try and find a champion, the other is to promote running and walking in the communities to improve the health of indigenous Australians,'' de Castella said.

''So we're also looking to identify and develop leaders.''

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