Friendships were forged, records were made and Indigenous achievement celebrated in the shadow of Uluru during the Indigenous Marathon Foundation’s national Deadly Fun Run Championships on the weekend.
In a program that brought together 140 runners from 22 communities, a huge cross-section of Aboriginal and Torres Strait cultures were represented at the seventh annual event on Saturday, which featured three-kilometre and 5km fun runs at Yulara in the morning and a relay race around Uluru in the afternoon.
IMF director Rob de Castella said the level of energy and enthusiasm among participants of all ages was testament to the growing popularity of walking and running groups in Indigenous communities across the country.
“This has been our biggest gathering yet, with 140 Indigenous runners selected from the thousands who take part in regular Deadly Fun Runs, as well as 10 Olympians to cheer on and support these incredible community champions,” he said.
“Being selected for the championships is a reward for those who step outside their comfort zones and become physically active, and an opportunity to celebrate the richness of Indigenous culture.”
The team from Port Macquarie, established in 2017 by the Indigenous Marathon Project’s first-ever graduate, Charlie Maher, took out the title of community champions for the second consecutive year, with another strong effort from the youthful group.
Each community brought with them a unique, handmade message stick to use as a baton in the relay run, which was then presented to the elders of the Mutitjulu community as a symbol of respect and appreciation for the traditional owners of the sacred site.
Among the 22 communities involved in the weekend’s events was a team from the Murraylands.
Six-year-old Jaxon McKenzie came second in his age group for the three-kilometre run and Ebony Marshall came third in the senior female five-kilometre run.
This year the team also took a group of walkers for the first time.
Deadly Running Australia (DRA) is an IMF initiative established in 2016, acting as an umbrella for IMF’s already existing running program.
The program strengthens existing community capacity and builds on the growing popularity of running/walking activities to develop and deliver events that support Indigenous Australians to achieve both physical and mental goals in programs driven by local leaders.
The activities are designed to motivate participants in a safe and social environment under the guidance of a qualified Deadly Leader, with ongoing support from the IMF.