It was a perfect, crisp Sunday morning, with the sun beaming down on the Melbourne Cricket Ground on 15 October as the Run 4 Refugees team gathered together with 32, 000 other people, ready to take part in the Melbourne Marathon.
Now in it’s 10th year, Run 4 Refugees originally started as a run for the staff and volunteers of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre who came together to raise money and show support for people seeking asylum. This year, an incredible team of 490 people donned the Run 4 Refugees t-shirt and took to the track in either the marathon, half marathon, 10km, 5.7km or 3km events. Including 25 kids, the Run 4 Refugees team was as diverse as it was spectacular, with families, friends, elite athletes and plenty of grandparents getting involved.
With the help of generous supporters, the Run 4 Refugees team together raised a staggering $230,000 for the ASRC to help provide critical support for people seeking asylum. While it was a stellar team effort, there were undoubtedly some stand out fundraisers who went above and beyond in their efforts.
The top fundraising team was the now famous Nuns on the Run team, raising an astonishing $17, 000, with their leader Sister Rita featuring in a special SBS report. This year also marked the inaugural Corporate Cup, with six teams joining the mini race for corporate glory, while over 30 staff of the ASRC battled it out for what our Run 4 Refugees coordinator Jo Gumley described as a ‘tragic trophy’.
While the day is not about winning, we had plenty of standout participants who have defied their age and ability to challenge themselves and show their love and support for the ASRC. Long-time volunteer David McPhaill celebrated with 70th birthday and 4th Run 4 Refugees event by running a full marathon, a truly inspirational feat.
David explains the run is valuable in many different ways “I’ll run a marathon and raise $5000 and as little as it is it’s useful…but what makes it valuable much more so is how that becomes public attention”.
In another show of age being no barrier, the lovely Grandmothers Against Detention team took part in the 3km event, enjoying the joyful spirit of the crowd.
The day couldn’t have been more perfect, and as team spirit and plenty of love and support was shared through the crowd, beautiful heartfelt messages of thanks to the ASRC were being tweeted from detainees currently in Manus Island Detention Centre.
As a day dedicated to inclusiveness and unity, 18 people seeking asylum who currently work with ASRC took part in the events, running alongside their peers and those they work closely with as one big team. For many of these individuals, participating in Run 4 Refugees is a chance to give back to the ASRC and help raise awareness for their cause. For Sarah*, taking part is a chance to show her people back in West Papua she will continue to fight and talk about the issues at home.
“The issue is of killing for us talking for human rights, for country independence… I walk because my heart is for the people, I want to get new hope for their kids.” Said Sarah.
One of these inspiring participants Norman took time out to document the day and take some beautiful images all while cheering on the Run 4 Refugees team. Read his story ‘ Over 450 Run 4 Refugees’ below.
Runners, walkers and supporters alike got to kick back and enjoy the Run 4 Refugees ‘Chill Out Zone’. Complete with picnic blankets, snacks and refreshments, the Chill Out Zone served as a communal base, and the setting for two great team photos of the early and late runners to celebrate at the start of their events.
For a community constantly fighting for freedom, safety and a fair process for people seeking asylum, the Run 4 Refugees event was a great opportunity for everyone to come together and enjoy the day.
Continually evolving, Run 4 Refugees has enjoyed wonderful growth and support during it’s time with Melbourne Marathon, however it is not exclusive to this event. Whether you’re participating in an event interstate or simply want to do your own fundraising challenge, Run 4 Refugees welcomes everyone to the team. For more information on how you can participate in Run 4 Refugees click here.
Over 490 Run 4 Refugees
Words and images By Norman K
There is no small effort and 490 runners proved this when they mingled into thousands of other runners at the Melbourne Marathon to raise awareness about refugees.
They jogged, others walked while others ran all the way in different distances in their black T-shirts with the words Run for Refugees standing out for everyone to see.
In the same spirit, they trekked the distance, being cheered on as they went beyond just enjoying a fun day out and keeping themselves fit. They had an extra mile of connecting to the community and raising awareness for their cause.
Different ASRC workers, volunteers, participants and well-wishers all exhibited their spirit, and stand with the ASRC community to raise awareness for people seeking asylum, and also raise critical funds that go directly to the ASRC to support vital programs assisting legal aid, health, employment, education, advocacy, and to create a place where everyone is welcome.
Well they might have sweated, became weary and others needed an afternoon to recover, but one thing was in common; they had all managed to tell the world that refugees are real and people seeking asylum need help.
Through the message on the back of their T-shirts, everyone who read it had a deep reflection.
“Hope for a new life, that is what I am running for”.Leave a reply →