ACCOMPLISHED south-west endurance athlete Alby Clarke has gained the support of a wide range of south-west indigenous groups in his bid to be recognised as the first indigenous person to have completed an ultra marathon.
Mr Clarke, 78, of Warrnambool, ran 347 kilometres in the 2005 Cliff Young Colac Six-Day Ultra Marathon, one of the many feats of endurance he had completed in his running career.
He is battling to have the Australian Ultra Runners Association (AURA) recognise him as the first indigenous Australian to achieve the feat.
AURA has been reluctant to officially bestow the title because it cannot verify Mr Clarke is the first indigenous Australian to complete an ultra marathon.
Its president, Robert Boyce, said the association had no way of confirming Mr Clarke’s claim.
Mr Clarke said he was seeking the official recognition from AURA because he wanted to be a role model to inspire other Aboriginal athletes.
Among the south-west indigenous groups to back Mr Clarke’s campaign are the Gunditjmara Aboriginal Co-operative and Worn Gundidj Aboriginal Co-operative.
Worn Gundidj director Shannon Collyer said it often referred to Mr Clarke’s lifestyle choices and achievements when wanting to inspire its indigenous clients.
Gunditjmara chief executive officer Marcus Clarke said Alby Clarke was passionate about keeping fit and highlighting to the indigenous and wider communities the benefits of keeping active.
He said the community was understandably proud of Alby Clarke’s many sporting achievements.
Also supporting Mr Clarke’s bid were South West Healthcare Aboriginal Programs manager Allan Miller and the Purnim-based Kirrae Health Service.
Mr Clarke has also written to Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jeanette Powell and given her copies of the statements of support in a bid to get her to intervene to resolve the stalemate between him and AURA.