Two men from different worlds - a young man from a tiny remote Indigenous community and a millionaire entrepreneur from Brisbane – have bonded over marathon running and will tackle their latest challenge when they both run the Tokyo Marathon on Sunday.
Stuart Giles, 49, from Brisbane and Zibeon Fielding, 25, who lives in remote Central Australia, share a deep passion for major world marathons and for tackling tough charity challenges to support, empower and uplift Indigenous Australians.
The friendship and mentoring relationship blossomed under the banner of the charity founded and run by legendary Australian marathoner Rob de Castella, the Indigenous Marathon Foundation.
Aboriginal health practitioner Fielding from Mimili (population 300), situated in the far north-west region of South Australia on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, will be running his third world major marathon and Giles will be running his sixth.
In 2016, Fielding was selected to participate in the Indigenous Marathon Project, completing the New York City Marathon along with 11 other Indigenous runners, all guided and coached by de Castella.
In 2018, Fielding met Giles, co-founder of Epic Pharmacy and Icon Group as they were both training for the Boston Marathon and “hit it off”.
Giles had met de Castella the year before at a reception at the Australian High Commission in New York.
“I was blown away by what Rob was doing with Indigenous athletes through his Foundation and I could see the life-changing effect it was having on the young people there,” Giles said.
Both he and Fielding bonded over Boston - the marathon that would prove to be their toughest yet.
Fielding said he has learned and grown so much under the guidance of de Castella and mentorship of Giles.
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“Despite all of Stuart's success, he wants to reach out into Indigenous Australia. He knows that there’s poverty here and that there’s numerous social and economic problems in our own backyard and he inspires me to keep achieving and to be an agent for change.”
Following the 2018 Boston Marathon, Fielding ran an ultramarathon of 62km to raise $50,000 for local charity Purple House in Alice Springs to fund dialysis services for kidney disease patients in the APY Lands.
In addition, Fielding also directed a short documentary called Running 62 about his ultramarathon and personal journey, to raise awareness of the power of health and fitness.
Fielding and Giles fly out to compete in the Tokyo Marathon this week.
Fielding will begin training for his biggest endurance challenge on his return from Toyko: a seven-day bike ride across 700km of Australia’s harshest terrain– the mostly untouched APY Lands that he calls home – hoping to raise $30,000 for a community gym in Mimili.
He plans to become the first man to ride around the entire APY Lands, from the Stuart Highway in South Australia, along the outskirts of the Northern Territory, and cruising past the Western Australia border, back to his hometown.
Fielding embraces the challenge with passion.
“I want to promote a healthy lifestyle and positive change in the community through a culture of running and exercise,” he said.
“I know what it’s like to lose loved ones to premature deaths through suicide or chronic disease.
“The idea of the community gym is one that the students of Mimili School came up with. It will give the young people a place to gather, an activity to pursue and employment opportunities as personal trainers and staff.”
“For someone like me to have two hugely successful and influential people like Rob and Stuart investing their time and efforts into me makes me feel like I can take on the world and do anything
“I started with a small challenge of running and just putting one foot in front of the other. You just never know where all those footsteps will lead you,” Fielding said.
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