Council Employee Derrick Cusack Hitting His Stride for Marathon

Derrick Cusack
Council CEO David Keenan, Derrick Cusack, and Parks and Gardens Team Leader Tony Connolly.

Published: 16th April 2021

A Council employee will soon be doing the Mount Isa community proud when he takes part in the 2021 Indigenous Marathon Project (IMP), after he was picked to join a squad of 14 runners out of 150 applicants.

Derrick Cusack, 24, is a Labourer within Council’s Parks and Gardens team and was recently chosen for the 2021 Squad.

Run by the Indigenous Marathon Foundation – whose Director and founder is Australian marathon legend Robert de Castella – the Indigenous Marathon Project will see Derrick take part in five, one-week training and education workshops held each month in various cities across Australia.

Through these workshops, over the course of six months he will obtain a Certificate IV in Indigenous Leadership and Health Promotion, as well as a certificate in Mental Health.

During this time, he will also run in the Mother’s Day Classic in Canberra in May, the Gold Coast Running Festival in June, the Sydney City 2 Surf in August, and the Arnhem 30km test event in September, in training for the gruelling Midnight Marathon in Alice Springs in October.

Indigenous Marathon Project participants normally run the New York City Marathon; however, this was changed to Alice Springs this year due to the COVID pandemic.

Derrick said being selected to the IMP’s 2021 Squad was a big personal achievement for him.

“This is something that I’ve worked really hard for for the past two years,” Derrick said.

“I’ve never actually run a marathon or anything – boxing is my way of getting fit.”

Derrick will be in great company – the only other Mount Isa resident who’s been accepted into the IMP is none other than Jack “Deadly Ninja” Wilson himself, from TV show Ninja Warriors fame.

Derrick applied to take part in IMP after a couple of classmates took part in the program and recommended that he do so, although it was Jack who first mentioned it to him a couple of years ago.

“The classmates said it was a life-changing program,” he said.

“Health and fitness are a good way for anybody to get their life on track. It’s probably the best medicine that’s out there that you don’t need to consume. I reckon physical activity is the biggest cure for mental health.”

A Foundation spokesperson said the program celebrates Indigenous resilience and achievement, creates inspirational Indigenous leaders, and promotes healthy living and physical activity.

“All 14 squad members are soon to be pushing themselves beyond what they ever thought was mentally or physically possible and are tasked with the huge goal of completing their education certifications and running a marathon, at midnight, in Alice Springs, in just six months’ time,” they said.