Resolutions inspire 5K runners

Hundreds turn out for race to raise funds for men determined to beat their addictions

January 02, 2007|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,Sun reporter

In 2007, Matthew Kerr wants to run five kilometers in under 18 minutes. Wendy Berry wants to keep off the 66 pounds she lost last year. Lawrence Bond wants to stay sober - he said he's been clean for two years, after 34 years of using drugs.

All three started the new year well. Kerr and Berry, in wet weather, jogged in this year's edition of the Resolution Run - a 5K race around Patterson Park that benefits a Washington Hill halfway house for men recovering from drug and alcohol addictions.

Bond attended an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in the morning and then dodged raindrops while he helped set up cones for the race. For the past 8 1/2 months, he has been living at Earl's Place, the halfway house that organizes and benefits from the race.

"It is very healthy, very physically healthy," Bond said, describing how he feels about the race. Last year the run raised about $7,000 for Earl's Place. This year, organizers hoped that number would be closer to $10,000.

The race drew more than 330 runners, almost twice the number of people who ran last year. "I don't know if it was word of mouth - I think were just raising more awareness," said Sheila Helgerson, the executive director of Earl's Place. "It definitely wasn't the weather."

Runners paid between $25 and $30 to be in the race; Helgerson said there were fewer sponsors this year.

Helgerson said the race is held on New Year's Day in part because there aren't other races at that time but also because "the men are all reclaiming their lives and making resolutions to change." Earl's Place has 17 beds, and men can stay there for up to two years.

Kelly Bennett, 37, drove from Southern Maryland with her family to run in the race. In the past two years she has gotten hooked on running and lost 130 lbs.

A lot of things went wrong yesterday morning - the iPod froze, the weather was lousy. "I wasn't sure I wanted to run," she said.

But in the end, "You just kind of find a way to do it and go," she said. Bennett was one of many who said she found the stories of Earl's House residents inspiring.

By coincidence, an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting was going on in the same space as the registration. Some of the Earl's Place residents participated in the meeting. Some runners listened to it.

Doris Hacket, 38, who came from Pasadena for the race, was touched by the story of one woman who was caring for children and struggling with alcoholism. "It sounded like New Year's was hard for a lot of them," she said.

The race course was wet, but the rain had stopped by the time the race started at 2 p.m. Runners still had to maneuver around puddles and tread carefully down the slick hills. The course looped through the park twice.

When it was over, red-faced runners hobbled through the park toward their cars. The winner, Adam Sierakowski, finished in 17 minutes, 6 seconds.

"It's a good way to start off your new year," he said of the win. But he really had hoped for a time under 17.

His New Year's resolution: "To keep up the hard work that brought me the win."

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