Celebrating the power of running with the Indigenous Marathon Foundation in Mackay

Published: 03 Jun 2022

Over 100 runners from twenty communities across Australia will meet on Yuwi Country in Mackay this weekend to take part in the Indigenous Marathon Foundation (IMF) National Runners and Walkers (RAW) Fun Run Championships.

Spread over two days and led by their running group leaders, participants will take part in a community relay event on Saturday, June 4, at the marina, followed by the BMA Mackay Marina Run on Sunday, June 5.

Athletes hail from Thursday Island to Darwin, down to Adelaide and across to Canberra all with a clear message and purpose; to lead by example and spread the message of running and healthy lifestyles within their communities.

The IMF RAW Fun Run Championships, now in their ninth year, bring together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous runners from across Australia to connect with each other, celebrate healthy lifestyles and resilience, participate in a major running event, and to showcase Indigenous running. The Championships also include a special awards dinner to recognise achievements.

Of the runners attending the IMF RAW Championships is young Townsville runner and Kalkadoon woman Bria Cusack who says she was inspired to start running after watching her brothers’ journey as part of the Indigenous Marathon Project last year.

“My brother really inspired me. I started off doing local park runs and then joined IMF RAW in Townsville,” says Bria.

“A big part of the reason I run is for fitness and to connect with like-minded people. It keeps me grounded. Since joining Townsville IMF RAW, it has been such a nice community to be a part of. Everyone is super friendly. It has helped me come out of my shell."

“I’m looking forward to meeting other people in the IMF RAW community this weekend and being around so many other like-minded Indigenous people.”

Founder of the Indigenous Marathon Foundation and world marathon record holder Rob de Castella says he is looking forward to bringing the Championships to Mackay and shares that the Championships are a great way to celebrate Indigenous resilience and recognise the efforts and growth of the Indigenous running community.

“We are thrilled to be able to host our 9th National Championships in Mackay this year as part of the BMA Mackay Marina Running Festival and look forward to connecting with the local community of Mackay,” says Rob.

“Our IMF RAW Communities across Australia have each selected a team of four [including adults and juniors] to represent them based on effort, commitment, determination, and perseverance…running fast is just a bonus.

“Our running group leaders volunteer their time to organise sessions and events, coach their community, and motivate participants — with members of their running groups matching that same dedication and commitment. These actions deserve to be recognised and celebrated, and that's what this event is all about.

Mackay Regional Council Mayor Greg Williamson said it was tremendous to have the IMF team and competitors in our region.

“This is just fantastic, and we are thrilled that Rob and the team have chosen to bring the IMF RAW Championships to our region,” Mayor Williamson said.

“Council is proud to be able to support the IMF and will be hosting a civic reception for the runners and IMF team at Harrup Park today (Friday, June 3),” he said.

“It’ll be great to hear the personal stories of the runners and it’s a privilege to have so many inspiring role models from the Indigenous community visiting our region.

“We hope you all have a great championship, enjoy your stay and hopefully get the chance to experience some of our region’s more relaxing attractions once the running is done.”  

IMF RAW is a free, safe, and inclusive grassroots community-led and volunteer run movement in over 40 Indigenous communities across remote, regional, and urban Australia that aims to make running and walking a normal and everyday activity for all.

For more information about the IMF or for interviews, please contact Taneshia Atkinson, IMF Media and Communications Manager on 0425 183 754.

For queries related to the Mackay Marina Run, please contact Chrissy Evangelou, Event Coordinator on 0417203530 or at coordinator@mackaymarinarun.com

For queries related to the Indigenous Marathon Foundation (IMF) RAW Championships Civic Welcome at Harrup Park, please contact Senior Economic Development Officer - Tourism & Events Gabrielle Dicarlantonio on 0438 166 737.

More information about the Indigenous Marathon Foundation is available at www.imf.org.au or www.facebook.com/themarathonproject or www.instagram.com/IndigenousMarathonFoundation.

Media Release provided by Indigenous Marathon Foundation.