Running with heart and health: Eileen’s story of a life-changing marathon


Not too many years ago, Eileen Byers was overweight, drank more than she should, smoked, and suffered deep anxiety.

Last year, however, she ran the 42-kilometre New York Marathon, part of a select team of Indigenous athletes trained for the event by former Olympian Robert De Castella and team coach Mick Rees.

“Twelve months ago she told me all the things she couldn’t do,” Rees told Croakey. “Now she’s a superwoman.”

Byers, a Bundjalung/Wakka Wakka woman from Casino in northern New South Wales, described her life-changing journey at this week’s Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council conference in Sydney, “Tackling Tobacco and Chronic Conditions”.

The presentation earnt her a standing ovation from delegates, whose ranks she joined earlier this year when she was appointed as an Aboriginal health worker at the Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service, 600 kilometres from home and her first job since she was 18.

A little nervous at the conference, the 31-year-old let her inspiring slideshow do most of the talking but she gave more details in this post, published at the ABC as part of a series about her preparation for New York.

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