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Indigenous marathon project runner Cara Smith trains in the dark to inspire son to a better life

Aspiring marathon runner Cara Smith braves the Canberra cold to train at 3am so she can spend more time with son Zac, but her desire to change a family history of diabetes and obesity is her No. 1 motivation.

The 29-year-old is one of 12 athletes as part of the latest intake for the Robert de Castella inspired Indigenous marathon project.

They will train for six months before targeting a goal of completing the New York marathon on November 5.

The Queanbeyan mother of one wants to be the trigger for family change for one-year-old Zac to ensure he lives a healthy life.

"I have a family history of diabetes and obesity and I don't want that for my son. I want to be healthy and I want to be active and I want it to be a part of his [Zac Jnr] daily life," Smith said.

Former marathon world champion de Castella started the project in 2011 as a vehicle to promote healthy lifestyles for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.


Smith will balance full-time work with family duties as she begins a tough training schedule to be ready for the 42-kilometre run.

She has never run a marathon, having only completed a half marathon in New Zealand 13 months ago, and will again test herself in another half marathon on the Gold Coast in July. 

She is running up to 30 kilometres a week in preparation for not only the Gold Coast but to run her first full length marathon.

"It was scary and exciting to be honest, when [coach] Adrian Dodson-Shaw gave me the call I couldn't believe it," Smith said.

"My husband Zac [Snr] is so supportive so that helps a lot and I try not to think about my son [Zac Jnr], otherwise I get caught up and just want to spend time with him."

Although in the early stages of the program, Smith is already feeling the intensity. She trains four times per week and draws motivation from her family as the work load looks to increase.

"My baby [Zac], he's my driving force and motivation, he's a reminder of what I can achieve. " Smith said.

Running her first marathon, Smith also looks to inspire all indigenous females to get active and improve their health.

"Indigenous people face health and education issues. Young females, young mothers with two, three, seven children. It's so easy to fall into a trap but there's no excuse not to exercise, not to walk or run," Smith said.

Smith will be one of 50,000 to compete in the New York marathon when she completes her journey with the Indigenous Marathon Foundation and knows exactly what will be going through her mind. 

"Butterflies, don't fall, don't stop, my son, my husband, mom, dad , brother, sister. It's exciting but I've worked hard to get here, I want to show everyone from Northern NSW [New South Wales] what we can do," Smith said.