Colfax Marathon runners train to beat homelessness

DENVER (KDVR) — It’s one of Denver’s biggest running weekends of the year, drawing thousands of people from across the country who descend upon the Mile High City with a collective goal.

This year, five runners had their own collective goal. The race was another milestone toward recovery, and each getting back on their feet.

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“It helps mentally and spiritually as well you know, something to help accomplish a big goal,” said Joel Beaumont.

Beaumont is part of the Salvation Army’s Harbor Light Center recovery and rehabilitation program and expects to graduate from the program in July.

“I had problems with addiction. So, I needed to focus on that and just work on being a better me,” Beaumont said.

He and three other program participants have been training at 5:30 a.m., three to four times a week to prepare for the big day.

“It felt really good. We’ve been training for a while,” said Danny Lucero, another program participant.

A program called Back on My Feet Denver works with local groups like the Salvation Army and Denver Rescue Mission to ignite a new passion in those who have fallen on hard times or are experiencing homelessness.

“Wasn’t an easy road I took,” Lucero said. “But I never thought I’d be here. If you had asked me a year ago, ‘You’re going to be running in a marathon,’ I’d have laughed.”

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Back on My Feet works one-on-one with participants to get them out every other morning for a run, but also helps them navigate finding a job, a car and a place to live.

“I love that part, too, because you really get to know someone one-on-one and help them through that progress,” said Ericka Borenstein, a volunteer with Back on My Feet. “And then, hopefully, see them graduate and get an apartment and a job. That’s what it’s all about.”

The running is also a bonus to show participants what they can accomplish.

“We’re very careful about counting every mile that they run so there’s accountability, but there’s also some celebration every mile, every milestone that they meet,” Borenstein said.

On Sunday, the culmination of all their hard work came to fruition as they participated in the relay, running alongside people they had been with during their journey.

“This just makes us all even closer,” Beaumont said. “Rooting for each other, cheering each other on, sometimes we went through injuries, sometimes guys just didn’t want to do it and we just motivate each other as well. But the glory to God though for sure is what gets us all through it.”

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For some of the participants, the Colfax Marathon is just the beginning.

“The whole environment, the whole vibe here is awesome. I want to go through it again,” Lucero said.

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