By Jonathon Davidson
Western Australia and Broome’s Yawuru people will be represented in the New York City Marathon next month by athlete Kimba Benjamin as part of the 2016 Indigenous Marathon Project.
Established in 2009, the Indigenous Marathon Project is an initiative of the Indigenous Marathon Foundation, an Australian health organisation involved with multiple initiatives across Australia.
Kimba joins 11 other Indigenous men and women from across Australia travelling to NYC this November, the first year a complete team of IMP finalists will be participating.
Kimba, who writes and directs documentaries, was inspired to participate by 2014 IMP finalist Adrian Dodson-Shaw, another Broome-born runner who made it through to the bustle of New York City.
“Adrian Dodson-Shaw did the Indigenous Marathon Project a couple of years back and I heard about his involvement … so I followed his journey as a Broome man,” she said.
“The following year he ran the North Pole marathon which is pretty incredible, so it was just pretty inspiring and I wanted to learn more about what it was all about.”
For Kimba, the training regime has not been all fun and laughs, but when considering what the event means for her community, she says it’s easy to commit.
“It’s about more than just running a marathon.”
Training under Australian marathon legend Rob De Castella, IMP finalists participate in the New York Marathon, the world’s most prestigious marathon running event – in 2013, over 50,000 runners took part.
Kellie O’Sullivan, Communication and Fundraising Manager for the Indigenous Marathon Foundation, is pleased by the growth of the event in the last six years.
“The IMP originally started in 2009, the first group of four men headed over to NY in 2010. So that was the first year of actually engaging with the marathon itself,” she said.
“In 2011 women were able to apply, and now every year it’s six men and six women from Indigenous communities all across Australia.”