Robert de Castella with the winner of the Reconciliation Fun Run, Orlyn Fisher

May 23, 2017

Former champion athlete Robert de Castella is used to breaking records, but his marathon efforts weren’t the kind of records the organisers of the Reconciliation Fun Run from Murgon to Cherbourg were interested in celebrating on Sunday.

It was the record number of participants in the run – more than 500 – which was making everyone very happy.

The run, which is in its fourth year, has become a major fundraiser for the Ration Shed Museum at Cherbourg.

It started in light fog at Murgon Showgrounds about 8:00am after a blessing by Cherbourg pastor Willie Moses.

Ration Shed management committee member Bevan Costello reminded the runners that it was all about Reconciliation.

He said run would provide a great opportunity for the Aboriginal participants to share their family stories with the other runners around them.

Robert de Castella – or “Deek” as he is better known – led the crowd through a light warm-up routine to stretch their muscles.

And then they were off!

The runners included Member for Wide Bay Llew O’Brien (who also ran last year); South Burnett Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff, who has been a fixture at the run since it started; and Clare O’Connor, the Director-General of the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships.

There were also runners in tutus, Mexican hats, coloured wigs and one poor skeleton …

Seven kilometres later, and after climbing “heartbreak hill” into Cherbourg, the runners joined family members and friends in the park opposite the Ration Shed to enjoy a barbecue lunch, listen to music and watch a performance by the Wakka Gubbi Dancers.

There were also stalls to explore and at the rear of the Ration Shed, face-painting and art for the children.

Aunty Sandra Morgan, chair of the Cherbourg Historical Precinct (which includes the Ration Shed), said it had been “a long, long road” to get the fun run to the point it was at now but her heart was “filled with happiness”.

Footnote:  Just in case you’ve forgotten how mighty a marathon runner Robert de Castella really was … he was a dual Commonwealth Games gold medallist, the 1983 World Champion, a former world record holder, winner of the City To Surf (twice) as well as the Boston Marathon and several other international marathons; he has been awarded an MBE, an OAM, is a former Australian of the Year, and has been inducted into the Sport Australia Hall Of Fame. 

Related articles:

The 2017 Reconciliation Fun Run begins at the Murgon Showgrounds … the youngest runners always seem to be the first off the mark!
Naomi Andersen, Melissa Gimbel, Margaret Matheson and Margaret Allcock, from Cherbourg Hospital
Edith Bowie, from Brisbane, actually had plenty of people to run with … more than 500 in fact!
Pauline Ford and Janet Vonhoff, from Arethusa College (Shaftesbury)
Sergeant Rod Gelderblom, from South Burnett PCYC, with Member for Wide Bay Llew O’Brien at the start of the run
Soren, 7, Meeka, 2, and Lily Broome, 8, from Biloela
South Burnett Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff with Cherbourg councillor Alana Purcell
Alex Georgetown, 14, was helping out Sebastian Fisher at the CTC barbecue at the end of the run
Former marathon champion Robert de Castella crosses the finishing line with Chris Sarra, former Cherbourg State School principal and founder of the Stronger Smarter Institute … Chris has taken up a challenge from Deek to run in the New York Marathon next year alongside the runners from Deek’s Indigenous Marathon Project
Robert de Castella (Deek) with Wakka Wakka elder Eric Law
Cherbourg mayor Arnold Murray catches up with Chris Sarra after the run
Mayor Arnold Murray and Deek with Arnold’s sisters Cynthia Willmott and Hazel Speedy
Hervey Bay triathlete Brandi Alberts was the first female across the finishing line
Heath Walker, 10, from the Gold Coast, looked pleased to have finished the run
Whose the man? Deek with veteran runner Laurie Douglas, from Cherbourg
The mob from the USmob radio station, Harold “Big Chance” Chapman, Uncle Rory Boney, Michael Monk and station manager Jeanette Brown … the station broadcast live from the park
Deek with Malone family members at the Ration Shed … Grace Bond, Frank Malone, Jeanette Brown and Cherbourg Historical Precinct chair Sandra Morgan
Reconciliation Fun Run organising committee member Zona Hussey-Smith with Deek
Nava Selvaraj was celebrating the end of a long run
The Reconciliation Fun Run was for young and old with many family groups taking part
Evan O’Rourke, Wondai; Rebecca Payne, Wondai; Trish Wiley, Murgon; and Amity Wiley, 6
QUT volunteers were helping out on the day … from left, Abby Ballard, Crystal Kowald and Evie Fenech
Arethusa College (Shaftesbury College) entered a large team of runners
A large crowd watched the Wakka Gubbi dancers perform in front of the stage
More culture shared by the Wakka Gubbi dancers at the end of the fun run

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Reconciliation Fun Run Prizes

Champion athletes Robbie Crowther (long jump, high jump) and Larissa Chambers (sprinting, relay) presented the prizes to the winning runners:

Orlyn Fisher … overall winner
Daniel Prosser … male winner
Brandi Alberts … female winner
Orlyn Fisher … fastest boy (secondary)
Trent Aubrey … fastest boy (primary)
Ty-harna Davidson … fastest girl (primary)
Laurie Douglas … senior male
Angela Clarke … senior female
Edith Bowie … best dressed individual
Angela Clarke … oldest competitor
The Mexicans … best dressed team

NB. Caitlyn Watson was the winner of the fastest girl (secondary) prize


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