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Bonnie Runs To Inspire Her Community

Bourke’s Bonnie Smith is hoping to inspire her community by taking part in the Indigenous Marathon Project. Photo TWH

Bourke’s Verhonda ‘Bonnie’ Smith is passionate about running and is training hard to take part in her first marathon later this year.

But more importantly, she has set out to inspire young people in Bourke to set goals and believe they can achieve them.

Bonnie is one of a select group of fourteen runners taking part in this year’s Indigenous Marathon Project, a program set up by Commonwealth gold medallist Robert de Castella, to empower young people to become leaders in their communities.

Bonnie’s sister Jacinta was one of those selected for the program in 2016, competing in the New York marathon. Bonnie flew to New York and watched her sister cross the finish line and knew then it was a goal she was determined to achieve. To get there though, took a lot of hard work, drive, and commitment.

“I’ve applied four times to be on the squad, which has an age range of 18 – 30,” Bonnie said. “I am 29 now so I knew if I didn’t make it this year that would be it.

“I had to submit details of my three-kilometre trial run and then have an interview – via Zoom, of course, because of COVID – and I then made the cut to join the team.

“Usually, the squad has 12 runners but there was such a strong female contingent this year they added two more spots and I was accepted.

“Throughout the interview, I was asked about my ‘why’ – why did I want to do this, what was my purpose?

“It is a very challenging program, and you have to know why you are doing it to get you through the tough times.

“It’s not just about running, but about building resilience, lifting people up and inspiring change in indigenous communities.

“My ‘why’ is to promote and normalise healthy lifestyles,” Bonnie said.

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