We have an incredible non-profit organization here in Charlotte that provides outreach and support to the homeless community through running. Running Works encourages the homeless community to rediscover the power of teamwork, discipline, confidence and respect for each other through weekly volunteer led runs with group discussions and goal setting sessions afterwards.
We are excited to share thatRunning Works is proud to have three homeless runners in Saturday's Novant Health Thunder Road Marathon and five in the half marathon. This is a pivotal moment for these men and women. One of the things the organization has seen over time is that upon completion of the race, the runners secure self-respect and the knowledge that they do have potential. They realize anything is possible with hard work and perseverance It has followed a pattern that the longer the race, the harder the goal to achieve, the more incredible the results post event in the form of finding employment and housing.
These eight runners committed to training for the race and joined theRunning Works team for the regular program every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday in addition to showing up on Sundays for their long runs. They meet in the afternoon for the long run and then enjoy a family-style meal afterwards to promote teamwork and good recovery. At least one of the runners will likely break the four hour marathon mark despite having no housing throughout his training and often sleeping on park benches before long runs. The dedication these runners have shown to the training program is inspirational.
Today we're profiling the eightRunning Works runners you'll see on the course Saturday. Look out for them in their blue Running Works shirts and be sure to cheer them on.
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Chuck (33), Marathon: Chuck is one of the original members of the Running Works team and he has followed an admirable progression of races leading to his ultimate marathon goal: 5k, 8k, 10k, half marathon and now marathon. He is a great example for all runners that excuses are invalid. He sleeps wherever he can find shelter in the winter and on park benches when it is “nice” (over 30 degrees), but still shows up to train and race at the highest level with a great attitude. Chuck will be paced by his training partners and mentors Meredith Dolhare and Matthew Campbell, who hope to bring him to the finish line in under four hours.
Momadi (24), Marathon: Momadi is one of the newest members of our team, and he just discovered his penchant for running. An incredibly gifted 24-year-old from Liberia who speaks English, French and Spanish fluently, he came to us from the Urban Ministry Center’s Street Soccer 945 team, with whom we are grateful to share many talented athletes. Momadi effortlessly completed several long runs in his lead up to Thunder Road, and will be paced by Jeff Dean, who helped Running Works teammate Troy complete a 4:19 marathon last year. Troy now boasts a full-time job and housing following a long tenure on the streets. Momadi spends his evenings in the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, and is actively looking for employment.
Robert (44), Half Marathon: Robert, a Liberian refugee who has been with the Running Works program since its inception, completed the Thunder Road Marathon last year in 4 hours and 19 minutes. He planned on running the full 26.2 miles again this year; however, he sustained a back injury this month playing soccer. It has been a struggle convincing Robert not to run the full marathon even though he is in pain! Sometimes the Running Works “No Excuses” mantra works against us.
Antonio (24), Half Marathon: Another original Running Works teammate, Antonio is our fastest runner and often wins or at least places within his age group at local races after spending the evening in the elements. He completed the Thunder Road Half Marathon in one hour and 48 minutes last year, and is shooting for a sub 1:40 time with veteran volunteer pacer Justin Andrews, who trained with and ran alongside team member Matthew when he completed his now famous 50k race (31+ miles). Even though he begins construction work at 5 a.m., Antonio continually shows up for Running Works when he can, and he never misses a race.
Nathan (27), Half Marathon: Nathan is a longtime team members who was living an unhealthy existence in a tent city when he found Running Works but showed early prowess as a runner. He is now working, has housing, and has made his way into recovery. He is a great example for the others and continues showing up for his peers. This is his first half marathon, but he has completed races from 5k-10k at impressive speed with the Running Works team, in addition to taking part in the Thunder Road weekend training sessions.
Lamarr (24), Half Marathon: Last year, Lamarr lost his grandmother shortly before Thunder Road and decided to constructively channel his pain by running the half marathon, which was a stretch at the time. Motivated by grief, he completed the race in 2 hours and 40 minutes. This year, he will be accompanied by his Running Works teammate Giovanni in order to stay focused and enjoy the process. Lamarr is our most reliable Running Works team member, as he never misses anything team related no matter when it takes place, and he consistently helps his peers on all levels.
Giovanni (25), Half Marathon: Giovanni joined the Running Works program in the spring and quickly became the “real MVP”—bringing new runners from the shelter, never missing a run or race and always stepping up to help in any capacity. It is no wonder he found an excellent job rather quickly, yet coordinated his schedule to be off on Fridays and Saturdays so he could participate in the Friday program and weekend races. In true Giovanni fashion, he will be running with his Running Works teammate Lamarr in order to keep him focused, happy and on target pace.
Alicia (26), Half Marathon: Alicia will be taking part in her second Thunder Road Half Marathon this year. Last fall, she lost 100 pounds pre-race, and she remains an excellent example of relinquishing the fear of failure or success. At Running Works, each and every teammate and volunteer is encouraged to find a reason to succeed, not a reason why not. She will be paced and mentored by newly crowned Ironman Finisher and volunteer extraordinaire Laura Foust.