For seven years, Travis Naden has been chasing his marathon dream and on Sunday 3 November it will come to fruition alongside eight other members of the Indigenous Marathon Project (IMP) squad at the New York City Marathon.
Born and raised in Canberra, Wiradjuri man Naden saw the Running to America documentary on TV nearly 10 years ago and has been aspiring to be a member of the squad ever since.
This was his seventh year trying out for IMP and the persistence has finally paid off.
“I had the attitude of making the most of each opportunity and it (squad selection) came up every year,” he said. “It was about showing up and giving it a go.”
Naden, who is a third year apprentice electrician, said the most he had run before participating in the IMP was about 10km but “now I run that and more every day”.
The 28-year-old has spent the past six months training for the New York marathon and has completed four IMP camps across Australia including a 15km run for Reconciliation Day in Canberra, a half marathon (21.1km) at the Gold Coast Marathon, the Sydney City2Surf (14km) and a final 30km time trial in Alice Springs.
He has also successfully achieved his Certificate IV in Sport and Recreation, his Level 1 Run Coaching qualification, First Aid certificate, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health First Aid certificate.
Looking to New York, Naden has an ambitious goal of a three-hour marathon but “if I can get under three and a half hours I would be happy”.
“My fiancée is coming along as well to see my running and be there at the finish line in New York.”
As to what’s next, Naden said “I am going to enjoy a little break” but he hasn’t ruled out further running. “We had a few people speak to us who have gone to bigger races or ultramarathons; maybe one of those.”
The IMP is the flagship program of Rob de Castella’s Indigenous Marathon Foundation (IMF).
“These nine young men and women have been selected from over 190 applicants – our highest number of applicants ever,” de Castella said.
“This isn’t just us taking nine people over to New York to run a marathon,” de Castella said. “This is about the substantial effect each of those nine people has on their communities, and the people watching at home. The ripple effect IMP has on community is in the thousands. These young people are inspiring.
“The finish line is just the start line.”