Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre


In 2011, the Indigenous Marathon Project (IMP) developed and executed a pilot program at the Banksia Hill Juvenile Detention Centre. The program developed was similar to that facilitated by core IMP squad, however detained youth completed their training within the walls of the detention centre and over a shorter period.


During the training period, Rob de Castella and IMP representatives from remote Australian communities visited the centre and gave inspiring presentations. Emphasis was put on the fact that if they were discharged and wanted to apply to be part of IMP and travel to New York, they could. The only limiting factor was if they turned 19 and reoffended, then that would terminate their ability to apply for a visa to the United States and disqualify them from entry into IMP.


The young inmates were given special privileges to watch the IMP documentary titled Running to America. Both IMP representatives at the visit starred in the documentary. The training group were also visited by iconic boxer Danny Green and his quote was remembered by everyone - “It takes a second to quit, but a lifetime to forget”.



During the course of the program, roughly 40 young men regularly attended the training sessions in preparation for the marathon.


Four months after the program started, race day arrived. All 130 inmates were requested to participate in the run as a physical education activity and lined up on the start line of the 1.75km loop circuit within the walls of the detention centre.


Of the 130 inmates that started, an incredible 35 made it to the half way mark. Out of those 35, 26 made it to the finish line – a full 42.195km later. The Project itself had some amazing and positive impacts on the lives of those who participated.


There were a number of prolific examples of the benefits of the program, none more compelling than one young man. He had previously been sedated due to a methamphetamine addiction. During the program, he was removed from all medication. His attitude changed. He began speaking and was helpful and cooperative towards staff at the facility. The regular physical activity changed his brain chemistry and according to numerous reports from staff, he became a completely changed person. Another young man at the centre was discharged shortly after winning the marathon, and in his release papers, it was requested he join a running group and continue his training. To his credit, he did and has since gained employment within the health sector, and is now acting as a role model for others.


The prison officer, who assisted in developing the program model, went on to win the Western Australian Department of Corrective Services Award for Innovation.


Nadine Hunt


Nadine grew up in the far-North Queensland community of Cairns. While she was physically active during her teenage years, regularly playing soccer and Australian Rules football, Nadine had no background in distance running, and could barely run a kilometre.


Nadine was working casually in a local butcher’s shop and in her words, “coasting through life”. Nadine decided to try out for the Project purely to show-off and beat a running record set by her teacher. She had no running background, and no interest in running a marathon. In February 2011, Nadine ran a 3km time trial at the local park as part of the IMP application process. She barely finished the run, running an average of 6 minutes 30 seconds per kilometre. Despite Nadine’s claims after the run that she thought she was going to die, she impressed the selectors, and was chosen from a group of 150 applicants as part of the 20 member Indigenous Marathon Project squad to take part in intensive training camps across the country, culminating in running the New York Marathon just six months later.


After 26 weeks of long training runs, hill sprints and recovery sessions in the gruelling northern Queensland heat, Nadine lined up alongside 45,000 other competitors at the start of the world’s largest marathon. She crossed the finish line 3 hours and 40 minutes later as the first Indigenous Australian woman ever to finish the world famous marathon.


Not only did Nadine achieve something that never in her wildest dreams has she believed she was capable of, she also graduated from her Certificate III in Community Recreation, developed a series of national community fun runs, and landed a job with the Indigenous Marathon Project as coordinator, education facilitator and athlete mentor.


Nadine now believes that she has a career and goals, and most importantly, knows which direction she wants her life to take. Nadine’s achievements have not only changed her life, but the lives of those close to her. In December 2011, after finishing the New York Marathon, Nadine was integral in starting a series of fun runs in her home community of Mossman. Once a month, the community come together to run or walk the course, in a bid to increase their levels of physical activity and improve their health.


In a recent fun run, held in Mossman over Easter, eight of Nadine’s family members, many of who are plagued by heart disease and diabetes, completed the course. In addition, Nadine will run her second marathon in Frankfurt, Germany, in November 2013, before jetting off to New York to watch the athletes she spent the year mentoring achieve what she did two years ago through the streets of New York.




The Indigenous Marathon Project (IMP) was founded in 2010 by former World Champion marathon runner Rob de Castella. IMP is not a sports program, but a community focussed health initiative that uses the simple act of running as a vehicle to promote the benefits of healthy and active lifestyles.


IMP annually selects, educates, trains and takes a group of inspirational young Indigenous men and women aged 18-30 to compete in the world’s biggest marathon – the New York Marathon. Through this, IMP promotes the importance of healthy and active lifestyles throughout Indigenous communities, and creates Indigenous role models.

Organisation Details
50 Colbee Court, Phillip ACT 2607
Contact details: 

+61 2 6260 5750