“I never expected to have completed this half marathon. I wasn’t even sure if I would be alive by this time last year, but here I am. I thank God for the opportunity.”
Jesse, a participant moments after he completed his first ever half marathon.
On Sunday, October 3rd, 2021, Portland Rescue Mission partnered with Up and Running Again, a California-based nonprofit running to run the Portland Half Marathon with our men’s recovery program, The Harbor. Over 11 participants ran, which is the highest participation we’ve had to date.
Only one year ago, most of these 11 men were experiencing the trauma and hopelessness of life on the street with a crippling addiction. They had a different life and in many ways, they were different people. The half-marathon required planning, grit, courage, and health, all tools for living that these men gained through their program at The Harbor. And in one small moment, when these men crossed the finish line, the roaring cheers from our community confirmed what these men now know to be true: They have hope for a new life.
Up and Running Again and has multiple programs that span the west coast. They help provide a pathway to lifelong success by training homeless individuals living in rescue missions to complete half marathons. Hard work, discipline, and teamwork in a Gospel-driven context get them to the finish line of the race, but also to the starting line of a new life filled with confidence, dignity, and hope.
Andre shared his own experience in how his race built confidence for him. His program participants, who he calls brothers, gave him an award for showing up to every single training run. When asked about his discipline and how he stayed motivated, he said:
“I think I did it one day at a time, just focusing on that one day. I actually didn’t want to do it, but they say when you do what you don’t want to do, that’s when you grow. And when I did it, every time I completed a day of training or a moment like this, it seemed like growth took place within myself, the confidence level.”
Jesse, another participant who had never run a race like this before, said it felt like the hardest thing he had ever done. His coach, Steve from Up and Running Again, encouraged him to believe in himself. Jesse would later pinpoint the moment he began to feel hopeful. It was during a 10-mile training run with Steve, as he coached Jesse up the brutal hills. He said, “I was so blessed to have Steve run with me, I knew I was going to make it with him by my side.” On race day, Jesse ran the whole 13.1 miles with Steve by his side, cheering him on with every step, but most importantly, giving Jesse confidence he could do it.
We asked Andre what he wanted to share with other men at The Harbor, “I believe this gives me a message to give to others – do it, just do it, try it. It’s beneficial. It gave me strength, now I know I can complete practically anything I put my mind to and I’m just thankful for the love.”
We invite you to join us in praying for the eleven men who completed the Portland Half as they continue their recovery journey. If you are interested in volunteering, you can join us on our early morning runs, serve breakfast at the Burnside shelter, or serve in our community garden. To learn about all our volunteer opportunities, click here to sign up.