GEOCON High Society Masthead

Running for change: Suzie Hoitink

Ashleigh Went

You may recognise her as the face of (and brains behind) Clear Complexions clinics, but you probably don’t know that Suzie Hoitink is a super-fit runner and triathlete.

So when asked to participate in the Indigenous Marathon Project (IMP)as a Corporate Patron, Suzie’s answer was an immediate “yes”.

Started by Canberran Robert de Castella, each year theIMP selects 12 Indigenous men and women to run the New York Marathon, as part of a broader program to empower the Indigenous community.

The New York Marathon is the long-distance runner’s Holy Grail—the biggest and most renowned marathon in the world. It’s not easy to secure a spot, so Suzie jumped at the opportunity to jump the queue. It wasn’t until she met with Director and Canberran running legend, Robert de Castella, that she realised the weight of her decision—and the privilege that came with it.

“Rob told us what the Indigenous Marathon Foundation is all about— what we were representing, and why we were coming on board.”

“I actually had a deep sense of shame that my first reaction was really very self-serving in that I was excited about running the marathon—because the IMP is actually not really about the marathon at all.”

What it IS about is empowering a community, whose struggle too often goes unacknowledged by the majority of Australians, by creating Indigenous role models and inspiring its people.

As part of their six-month marathon training, IMP’s runners are trained to become healthy lifestyle leaders in the community, by completing a Certificate III in fitness, focussing on Indigenous Healthy Lifestyle. The aim is to address the high instance of chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease and renal failure.

“They’ve committed to taking the hard road” says Suzie. “Each one of them is doing it because they have courage and a desire to better themselves and to leave a legacy for their families, particularly their children. It’s been an absolute privilege to get to know them on a personal level, and I feel incredibly proud to run alongside them.”

Suzie explains she didn’t have any Indigenous friends prior to participating in the Indigenous Marathon Project—but that’s all changed.

“Now I’ve got 12 great Indigenous friends, as well as the incredible alumni and people who work within the program, who have also become close friends.”

IMF Canberra squad

Suzie has met with the runners on a number of occasions for running events, including the recent City2Surf in Sydney. The next meeting will have them running an impressive 30 kilometres in Alice Springs, and then the big one—the New York Marathon—will take place on 5 November.

“I’m hoping that I’m going to go to New York having raised the $50,000 that we are aiming for. It’s a big target, and I’m going to need a lot of help from the Canberra community, in particular.”

Suzie has already received donations from a number of individuals, including Clear Complexions customers.

“Whenever you tell a client about it, they instantly want to do what they can, so a lot of our clients are ‘rounding up’—whenever they have a procedure or treatment done in the clinics they’re rounding up that little bit extra for the Indigenous Marathon Foundation.”

Suzie has also received support from local businesses including OTIS Dining Hall and Hotel Realm—OTIS are hosting a function on the 16 October for 70 people with 100% of proceeds going directly to the Indigenous Marathon Foundation fund (if you’re interested in purchasing tickets, email [email protected])

“We would love to hear from anyone else who might be able to help as well with donations, or in-kind, or to help support events that we’ve got” says Suzie.

“It isn’t just about raising money, it’s actually about allowing people to change their life, and in doing that they change the lives of those around them.

“We want to make sure that this initiative survives well beyond us, but we want to make sure—in particular—the 12 runners we are looking after get to the race, and have that support afterwards as well.”

To find out more about the Indigenous Marathon Project and Suzie’s journey, or to show your support, you can visit her fundraising page.



Ashleigh Went

HerCanberra ACTIVE Editor Ashleigh Went has a passion for all things health and wellness. As someone who loves champagne and cheese almost as she loves a sweaty workout, she's all about living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. She can usually be found with her nose in a book, planning her next adventure, in the gym or updating her Instagram @wentworthavenue. More about the Author