A Council employee will soon be doing the Mount Isa community proud when he takes part in the 2021 Indigenous Marathon Project after he was picked to join a squad of 14 runners out of 150 applicants.
Derrick Cusack, 24, a labourer in Council's Parks and Gardens team was recently chosen for the 2021 Indigenous Marathon Foundation squad founded by Australian marathon legend Robert de Castella.
Each year the Foundation selects and mentors a squad of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women to participate in one of Australia's most demanding and difficult programs requiring them to go from little or no running to finishing a full marathon in just six-months, under the guidance de Castella.
Up until last year, all runners trained for the New York City marathon, however due to COVID-19 restrictions they will run their marathon in the desert outside of Alice Springs, at midnight, under a full moon on Arrente country.
Derrick and fellow squad members will take part in five, one-week training and education workshops held each month in various cities across Australia.
Through these workshops, over the course of six months they will obtain a Certificate IV in Indigenous Leadership and Health Promotion, as well as a certificate in Mental Health.
During this time, Derrick will also run in the Mother's Day Classic in Canberra in May, the Gold Coast Running Festival in June, the Sydney City 2 Surf in August, and the Arnhem 30km test event in September, in training for the gruelling Midnight Marathon in Alice Springs in October.
Each run event coincides with a 5-day workshop during which squad members undertake the education aspects of the program and also give them the opportunity to come together as a group to motivate one another and share their triumphs and challenges in a supportive environment.
Derrick said being selected to the IMP's 2021 Squad was a big personal achievement.
"This is something that I've worked really hard for for the past two years," Derrick said.
"I've never actually run a marathon or anything - boxing is my way of getting fit."
Derrick follows in the footsteps of Jack "Deadly Ninja" Wilson from TV show Ninja Warriors fame as the only other Mount Isa resident accepted into the program.
Derrick applied to take part after classmates took part in the program and recommended that he do so, although it was Jack who first mentioned it to him a couple of years ago.
"The classmates said it was a life-changing program," he said.
"Health and fitness are a good way for anybody to get their life on track. It's probably the best medicine that's out there that you don't need to consume. I reckon physical activity is the biggest cure for mental health."
A Foundation spokesperson said the program celebrates Indigenous resilience and achievement, creates inspirational Indigenous leaders, and promotes healthy living and physical activity.
"All 14 squad members are soon to be pushing themselves beyond what they ever thought was mentally or physically possible and are tasked with the huge goal of completing their education certifications and running a marathon, at midnight, in Alice Springs, in just six months' time," they said.
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