Indigenous runner Harold Matthew has conquered another of the world’s great running races and taken his place in history.
Matthew, who ran laps of tiny Thursday Island to train for the London Marathon, crossed the line of the prestigious event late last month in a time of 4:47:10.
He was the first Indigenous runner to compete in the 36-year-old event.
The father-of-two has previously run the New York marathon and also marathons on the Gold Coast and in Honolulu, but this was his first trip to London.
Matthew’s training for the event saw him running laps of Thursday Island, a 3.5km land mass in the Torres Strait with a population of about 2600 people.
The London course was in stark contrast to Thursday Island’s Milman Hill, a steep incline Matthew included in his training.
“The race was awesome, I loved that it was pretty flat,” he said.
“The crowd was absolutely amazing, cheering on competitors from start to finish. It was electric … running across London Bridge, Big Ben and of course running past Buckingham Palace.”
Matthew is a 2014 graduate of marathon great Robert de Castella’s Indigenous Marathon Project, a program run by health promotion charity the Indigenous Marathon Foundation, which uses the long-distance event as a vehicle to promote healthy lifestyles for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
De Castella said he was thrilled to watch Matthew make history and inspire the rest of Australia.
Matthew travelled to London with the support of the president of Athletics Australia and former federal Labor politician, Mark Arbib, a seasoned marathon runner who completed the course in a time of 3:06:23.
“It’s so exciting to see our first Indigenous runner complete the famous London Marathon and rewrite Australian history,” Arbib said. “Harold is a strong, resilient, determined man and father. I am incredibly proud of Harold finishing his fourth marathon since 2014 – it’s a remarkable achievement.”
By Wendy Caccetta