Buoyed after a decade of turning everyday Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders into New York marathoners, the iconic Robert de Castella is seeking the last bastion of a running frontier he created.
The Indigenous Marathon Foundation is seeking its first Tasmanian to join up to 11 others from similar cultural experiences to train for the foolhardy 42.195km distance for the first time in their lives.
No capable runners apply.
The plan is to try out prospective indigenous runners in Invermay next Wednesday evening and Thursday morning towards educating and training a squad of men and women that will all assemble from around the country.
The not-for-profit initiative first offered running and physical activity programs to promote health and fitness in remote communities back in 2010 with the end goal to complete the most popular marathon in the world.
"Incredibly in all that time, we haven't had one person that we have been able to identify and work with from Tasmania," de Castella said.
"We are really just so keen to make amends this year because we have had someone from every other state and territory at least one year.
"We have had those from the tiny, remote communities in Arnhem Land, middle of the APY (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara) lands, up in the Kimberleys and in the Torres Strait, everywhere but Tasmania. We're keen to identify someone who wants to be a change agent for their community."
ELSEWHERE IN SPORT
The Australian marathon great, who had collected gold three times at two Commonwealth Games and a World Championship against the greats from Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya, started up the program after wondering did indigenous runners have the same inclination for long-distance running as did the East Africans.
With 86 graduates in the record books, the answer appears to be an emphatic yes.
But less than a week from the visit, de Castella admitted there's little interest among one indigenous network and is weighing up walking away without another Tasmanian signed for an eleventh year.
"I find it hard to believe there isn't young aboriginal people in Tasmania, who just want to step up and make a difference, so hopefully it's more of a case of getting the message out," he said.
"I mean, it is hard, going from no running at all to running a marathon in about six months is a real test of someone's character and their determination. It's also a bit of a test of their support structures around them."
While de Castella believes the journey has developed into a "rite of passage" in all the indigenous communities for runners aged from 18 to 30 years, the experience has a bigger message than just running further than they have on a busy bitumen road.
"I'm not really looking for Tasmanians that are already super fit," he said.
"I am looking for people that really want to work hard, have to battle and struggle to get it done, and want to feel a sense of accomplishment."
Males will be asked to run 5km and women 3kms at try outs followed by interviews.
More details at Adrian.firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (02) 6260 5750.
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