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Homeless Runners Among Thunder Road Competitors

About 7,000 people are expected uptown Saturday morning to compete in the Thunder Road Marathon, half-marathon and 5K. A handful of them will represent a homeless  runners program.

It’s been nearly three years since the Urban Ministry launched its RunningWorks program. The participants are homeless or have been in and out of homelessness. They meet a few days a week to run and attend mandatory life skills sessions.

The basic idea: As physical fitness improves, homeless runners start accomplishing goals they thought were out of reach.

Program Director Meredith Dolhare says Charlotte’s Thunder Road marathon and half marathon provide a great opportunity.

“We found that the longer the goal, the longer the distance, the more they realize they can accomplish anything.”

Two RunningWorks runners will compete in the marathon, and five will run the half-marathon. Another four are in the 5K.

Dolhare says the program has served about 100 homeless people. Forty have obtained housing, and 39 have landed jobs.

That success has led to expansion. RunningWorks has started working with a program in Rock Hill, South Carolina that serves kids in DSS custody, and a Charlotte program that serves teenagers leaving foster care.

And in December, Running Works will begin serving the Charlotte Rescue Mission’s Dove’s Nest program for women recovering from addiction.