The first male health practitioner from the Angu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands is circumnavigating Country by bicycle.
Jennifer Scherer

20 Jun 2019 - 12:30 AM  UPDATED 20 Jun 2019 - 12:31 AM

It’s unforgiving terrain in the desert of the Angu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands.

Located in remote northwestern South Australia, the corrugated dirt road is lined with the parched silver of spinifex grass. The air is stagnant, heavy with heat: only the repetitive churning of bike pedals slices through the silence.

It’s here, under the harsh outback sun, that Zibeon Fielding is most at home. So much so that he recently rode his bike through the dusty desert of South Australia, along the outskirts of the Northern Territory and down along the Western Australian border.

A total of 710 kilometres over seven days. 

“It was an amazing adventure,” Fielding told NITV News.

“We had snakes along the road, a few dingoes along the way, thorny devils too."

“I feel very spiritually connected to the Country we are on; my forefathers and mothers walked on this earth before me and I feel as though I was being guided,” he said.

Giving back to community

With hometown of Mimili the final destination being, 25-year-old Mr Fielding said it was a fitting end point to a ride inspired by the kids of his community.

“I wanted to get behind an idea the kids came up with,” he said. 

“They wanted to build a community gym, so I managed to do a crazy bike ride to help fundraise and promote education around healthy living.”

Mr Fielding raised $40,000 and the first foundations of the Mimili gym were laid this week.

“If I can lead by example and inspire [the kids] to then take initiative, I feel like I’m playing my part for my community,” Mr Fielding said.

“The ultimate goal was to stop off in the communities [throughout the ride]: we are trying to push towards [fostering] that healthy lifestyle within our remote Indigenous communities."

This tour was not the first time Mr Fielding has pushed his body to extreme limits.

In 2016, he was selected in the Indigenous Marathon Foundation’s (IMF) team to tackle the illustrious New York marathon under the mentorship of famed long-distance athlete Robert de Castella.

From then, Mr Fielding was hooked on running. He completed the Boston Marathon in 2018 and in March this year, ran another 42 kilometres in Tokyo.

IMF coach Adrian Dodson-Shaw says Mr Fielding worked hard to break into the sport.

“He tried out for the [marathon team] for the last four years and in that time he never gave up,” Mr Dodson-Shaw told NITV News.

“His purpose grew every time he tried out. His direction became really strong.”

'Gathering momentum'

Recently, Mr Fielding ran an ultra-marathon, covering 62 kilometres of desert from Indulkana to Mimili.

The run raised $50,000 and bought a dialysis machine for his community.

“He’s gathering momentum within the APY Lands, being a role model and inspiring young people,” Mr Dodson-Shaw said.

“We don’t have to be on dialysis, it’s a preventable disease and it’s as simple as making the right choices, keeping healthy and active. Looking after yourself not just in the physical way but also mentally, spiritually and culturally – it’s all tied together in your overall well-being.”

Mr Fielding described his passion for health and promoting an active lifestyle within Mimili as what drives him.

“Running is therapeutic,” he said. “It revitalises me and I feel like I’m in my own zone, my own free space.”

With no marathons on the horizon (for now), Mr Fielding will instead be ticking off another first for his community.

“I had an epiphany going through this patch of life and these physical challenges," he confided.

“I’m going to study medicine.”

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