They came from all over Australia, six men and four women with one single purpose – to run across the finish line of the world famous New York City Marathon.
It was a marathon of success on Sunday 5 November, as our 10 outstanding 2017 IMP squad joined more than 50,000 competitors from around the world to conquer the iconic event.
The race was the celebration of six months of training and commitment for the squad, many of whom have come from non-running backgrounds, and some of Australia’s most remote areas.
For Roy “Billy” Tilmouth of Alice Springs, the rain and cold were the most challenging parts of the run.
“The conditions weren’t the nicest, but the atmosphere was unreal.
“Everyone was cheering, there were a few Australian runners who knew who we were and pushed me on when I was starting to hurt.”
Mr Tilmouth said he hit the wall at 30km and by the time he got to the finish line, he couldn’t talk.
“I was exhausted and I felt so emotional,” he said.
For Perth’s Luke Reidy, being the first IMP runner over the finish line was an unexpected bonus.
“I’m going to keep training for sure! I’d love to do another marathon one day, the sense of accomplishment is incredible,” Luke said.
Perth took out the quinella, with Allirra Winmar leading the IMP females across the line.
“It was surreal.
“All the hard work over the last year wound up in just one moment. I had my cousins from WA over here watching me, and the atmosphere carried me more than I expected,” Allirra said.
Zane Sparke of Port Macquarie who was recovering from a foot injury found the run much harder than he’d expected.
“I haven’t been able to run much since the 30km trial run in Alice Springs in September.
“I just started slowly and tried to get my pace worked out. The physical side was tough, then the mental games kicked in and I really had to work hard and remember to believe in myself,” Zane said.
Layne Brown of Warilla admitted that sticking to his training plan paid off.
“I just ran according to my plan.
“All my training worked. There were points where people were walking faster than I was running but I still kept going.
“The atmosphere was unreal, so much positivity and support from the crowd.
“Running has opened a new door for me, and made me set goals and live a new life,” Layne said.
It has been a remarkable year for the entire squad, who embraced the project with determination and fortitude, juggling marathon training with work and family commitments in just six months.
Marathon legend, Deek, said he was thrilled with the effort the 2017 squad had put into their time with IMP.
“I’m so incredibly proud.
“To get to know these 10 young men and women over the last year, and hear their stories, they’ve all faced enormous challenges but they have learnt to use their strength to overcome their problems.
“And they’re so committed now to making a difference for other Indigenous people.”
Queanbeyan’s Cara Smith said the experience was overwhelming.
“I ran the whole way, even through the tough times I never thought of stopping.
“The atmosphere was the best and really helped me to keep going,” she said.
Although she admits she didn’t hit the dreaded “wall”, Cara acknowledged there were plenty of “little hedges” along the way.
“I was really looking forward to the finish line.
“It was so hard at 30km, then again in the last 3km. But I loved it… I’ll have a good rest then sign up for the next marathon!” she said.
Head coach Adrian Dodson-Shaw, a 2014 IMP Graduate, said watching each member of the squad run over the finish line was an emotional experience.
‘’I selected these men and women for IMP because I saw in them the qualities of strength and resilience, and the ability to lead by example,” Adrian said.
“I’m so excited for them. They’ve completed one of the hardest things you can put yourself through.
It’s very rewarding to see how proud and happy they are.”
The 2017 squad’s results at the marathon are:
Luke Reidy, Perth, WA 3:43:09
Zane Sparke, Port Macquarie, NSW 3:49:18
Tj Cora, Cairns, Qld 4:03:53
Roy Tilmouth, Alice Springs, NT 4:16:45
Scott Cox, Broome, WA 4:35:02
Layne Brown, Warilla, NSW 5:57:35
Allirra Winmar, Perth, WA 4:22:27
Natasha Shires, Karratha, WA 4:43:49
Maletta Seriat, Thursday Island, Qld 4:47:32
Cara Smith, Queanbeyan, NSW 5:58:01