Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Young Aboriginal Men set pace for New York City Marathon

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Warren Snowdon, Minister for Indigenous Health
    Senator the Hon Mark Arbib, Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development
    Minister for Sport

Four young men from remote parts of Northern Australia are to become the nation’s first Aboriginal marathon team to compete in the world-famous New York City Marathon this weekend on November 7.

The first-time marathoners are Charlie Maher, Caleb Hart, Juan Darwin and Joseph Davies from the communities of Alice Spring and Maningrida in the Northern Territory and Kununurra in Western Australia.

The Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, who took the four runners on a tour of parliament house earlier in the year, said the talented youngsters are great role models.

“I am proud to have a personal connection with two of the runners; Charlie and Caleb, who grew up in Alice Springs, where I live. These four young men, who are aiming to complete a 42 kilometres marathon, should be congratulated for promoting distance running in remote communities and encouraging others to pursue their dreams and live healthier lives. I have every confidence they will do well,” Mr Snowdon said.

“Their journey, from some of the remotest parts of Australia to the streets of New York, is an inspiration for other young people in remote Indigenous communities,” the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin said.

“These men will encourage other people from their communities to lead healthier lifestyles. Through supporting initiatives such as this, the Government can help tackle Indigenous health problems head on and get people living healthier lives.”

The Australian Government is providing $500,000 over two years to the SmartStart for Kids initiative of former world champion marathon runner Rob de Castella, which aims to revitalise running among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and to establish educational programs that encourage a healthy lifestyle, exercise and good nutrition.

“I was fortunate enough to meet and go for a brief run with these young men before they went to New York. It is a fantastic achievement for these men who were selected from remote communities right across the NT and WA,” Senator Arbib said.

“The comprehensive training and education they receive under Robert de Castella’s SmartStart for Kids program was definitely evident on our run. The Australian Government is proud to support the program,” he said.

Four of these previously untrained athletes have now been selected to run in New York – having been turned into marathoners in less than one year. They have already competed in Dili in East Timor, and completed a half marathon in Central Australia and, when they return, their experiences will give them confidence to act as healthy lifestyle role models and ambassadors within their community.

“The efforts of the team so far have been fantastic, and the journey to the start line of the New York City Marathon provides a significant sense of achievement and personal pride for the runners, their families and their communities,” Mr Snowdon said.

Editor’s note: A photo of the runners visiting parliament in May 2010 is available at:

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