One group of runners went for a Saturday morning jog on a perfect sunny weekend. But the jog was about a lot more than just exercise.
All the runners have dealt with homelessness and currently live at San Diego Rescue Mission, a nonprofit helping people get back on their feet, and in this case, get up and running.
“It has been six months. I’ve been sober for six months and this has been helping me a lot,” said runner Salvador Rodriguez. “I’m doing well.”
He said he moved from San Francisco and has battled drugs and alcohol for the past four years.
The appropriately named “Up and Running Again” is a nationwide program to help people dealing with homelessness and addiction by organizing training and participation in half marathons. They partnered with San Diego Rescue Mission.
The organization helps pay for the participants’ shoes, race entries and other expenses — things that make it easier for people to take that first step.
Rodriguez ran his first half marathon in December, finishing in 1:31. The upcoming San Diego Beach and Bay Half Marathon in April will be his second.
“I fell like freedom. I feel like all my issues are behind, that I don’t have to look back, like keep moving forward and like I can do this,” Rodriguez added.
Allegra Vieux with San Diego Rescue Mission said the runners will train four times a week for 13 weeks. At the end, they’ll run together in the half marathon.
“You just see that they get their dignity back,” Vieux said. “You see people who’ve gone through so much in their lives and overcoming the adversities of homelessness.”
All along the way, they’re cheering for each other.
“When they finish that race, it’s like, ‘oh I can do anything,’” she added.