• Jordan Armstrong completed the New York Marathon. His uncle, Charlie Maher, was the first Indigenous Australian to cross the finish line. (Supplied)Source: Supplied
First Nations long-distance runners celebrate crossing finishing line in one of world's most iconic marathons.
Greg Dunlop

5 Nov 2019 - 10:56 AM  UPDATED 5 Nov 2019 - 10:57 AM

Nine Indigenous men and women are celebrating in New York after crossing the finishing line in one of the world’s most iconic races.

The entrants come from small towns and big cities, and spent the last six months training as part of the Indigenous Marathon Project.

The program - run by champion runner Rob de Castella - selects competitors to inspire their communities to adopt "active and healthy lifestyles".

The biggest challenge for Jordan Armstrong was not running, it was home sickness. 

“I’m not used to the city,” he told NITV News.

“I’m used to being the bush. Cities are too big for me.”

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The Western Arrernte man lives in Ntaria, an Aboriginal community about 130 kilometres south-west of Alice Springs. His uncle, Charlie Maher, was the first Indigenous Australian to complete the New York Marathon.

After six months of training, Mr Armstrong completed his first marathon on Sunday in five hours 55 minutes.

“Running 42 kilometres was just unbelievable,” he said.

“It’s taught me a lot, just the confidence, achieving my goals.”

“Just believe in yourself and train hard.”

Mr Castella, who launched the Indigenous Marathon Project 10 years ago, said the sense of accomplishment would last a lifetime.

“This year we had over 190 applicants for the squad,” he said.

“The guys are sore, very sore, but incredible proud."

“This is the last time that they’ll be together as a group. There’s a lot of emotions and a lot of love.”

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