Leaning on a fence set in the ochre-red central Australian dirt while camp dogs skulk nearby and the laughter of children playing echoes through the community, Zibeon Fielding breaks into a disarming smile as he reveals his latest achievement.
- Mr Fielding gained national attention when he completed the New York Marathon in 2016
- He has also completed the Boston Marathon, Tokyo Marathon and an ultra-marathon
- He will ride 700km across the APY Lands, raising funds and educating children
“I’m the first male health practitioner from the APY Lands,” he proudly declares.
“I just got that yesterday and I’m very excited.”
The 25-year-old gained national media attention in 2016 when he completed the New York City Marathon with the Indigenous Marathon Foundation (IMF), an achievement in itself, but for Mr Fielding, it was seemingly just the beginning.
He has since gone on to run the Boston and Tokyo marathons, and an ultra-marathon across the harsh desert-like terrain of his home in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands.
He has also successfully fundraised for a permanent dialysis unit that will allow sick Aboriginal people to return from the cities to visit their homes.
Now, he is cycling some 700 kilometres across the APY Lands, marked by rough corrugated dirt roads and, unseasonably at this time of year, oppressive heat and swarms of flies.
Zibeon and Bikes Palya run bike education clinics with kids from Amata community. (ABC News: Rebecca Puddy)
He arrives in his home community of Mimili on Easter Sunday with the promise of a new gym to be built on the back of $30,000 he has fundraised.
Along the way, he has done health checks on children, educated them about healthy living, and worked with Adelaide-based Bikes Palya to run bike workshops for kids.
“The idea of it is to go to all of the communities and try and promote health to the kids in the community out there,” he said.
“Sitting at the forefront, it’s very sad and heartbreaking seeing young people from the age of 30 potentially becoming chronically ill patients with diabetes and going down the track of other cardiovascular issues.
“Seeing that and dealing with that every day, it makes my heart cry.”
‘It’s all about healthy living and wellbeing’
IMF head coach Adrian Dodson-Shaw said Mr Fielding tried out for the marathon program for four years before he got through the selection process, and connected with the foundation’s focus on health.
“He’s tying all these things in — it’s not just about coming here and riding a bike … it’s all about healthy living, healthy lifestyles and wellbeing,” he said.
Mr Fielding comes from a high-achieving family of nine children, including brother Zaachariaha from award-winning electric-soul duo Electric Fields.
His father Robert is an internationally renowned contemporary artist.
All of the male Fielding children have biblical names beginning with the letter Z, while the women’s names begin with the letter P.
Robert, previously a ballet dancer from Port Augusta, met Mr Fielding’s mother Kaye Lowah, a Tiwi Islander hip-hop dancer from Cairns, on a trip to Sydney.
After initially living in Port Augusta, the family moved to Mimili, where Mr Fielding’s grandfather lived, learning about their culture along the way.
‘Without education, you don’t go anywhere’
His younger sister Peshwah said Robert and Kaye pushed all of their children to work hard and achieve their goals.
“They told us education is the main key in life — without education, you don’t go anywhere,” she said.
Mr Fielding graduated from Adelaide private school Mercedes College in 2012, boarding with a local family.
He now works for Nganampa Health, the federally-funded health service on the APY Lands.
While considering the potential for future study in medicine, Mr Fielding’s mind is already turning to his next grand plan after he completes his “tour de APY”, but won’t reveal what it is.
“I feel as though the finish line will just be the beginning of another exotic, crazy adventure,” he said.
“It certainly won’t be the last.”