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Date posted: 6 March 2013
Three Indigenous Australian runners crossed the finish line of the Tokyo Marathon on Sunday, marking the end of a year-long journey that was nearly blown off-course by Hurricane Sandy. The runners were part of an eight-person squad that travelled to New York last November as part of the Indigenous Marathon Project (IMP), where they found a devastated city and a cancelled race.
The IMP is the brainchild of Rob de Castella, the former marathon world champion and world record holder. Its goal is to encourage 'healthy, active lifestyles' in Indigenous communities, and, eventually, to tap into a potential new source of distance running talent.
‘I am extremely proud of each of these three young men,' de Castella said after the race in Tokyo. ‘They have shown great determination and commitment to bounce back from the disappointment of New York and run so well in such cold and windy conditions. This is something that they will carry with themselves for the rest of their lives.'
New York's cancellation left many would-be-marathoners adrift; for the IMP athletes, two key barriers were fundraising for another race, and the intense heat of a record-setting Australian summer in which the country's Bureau of Meteorology added a new colour to weather maps to include temperatures above 50 degrees Celsius.
‘It's been pretty tough,' admitted marathon runner Korey Summers, who lives near Alice Springs in central Australia. ‘Most days it's been 42 degrees or higher, so I had to get up at 4:30 a.m. to get my long runs in, even though it was still low 30s at that time.'
Summers' time was a new marathon record for runners from the IMP, which is now beginning its fourth year. Close behind was Nat Heath, from Newcastle, in 3:14:51 and Jurgean Tabuai, from Saibai Island in the Torres Strait Islands, in 3:27:50.
Meanwhile, the IMP continues to expand its presence in remote Indigenous communities around the country.
Source: Runners world running times