Group credits running with helping them get off the streets - KPTV - FOX 12

Group credits running with helping them get off the streets

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Runners with the group from Union Gospel Mission now train on the same streets where they used to stay when they were homeless. (KPTV) Runners with the group from Union Gospel Mission now train on the same streets where they used to stay when they were homeless. (KPTV)

Not long ago, Craig Ebaugh was struggling with addiction and living on the streets. But these days, he’s living at the Union Gospel Mission in Portland, going through treatment and doing something he never thought he’d do – running! 

“Being in this situation in this part of my life, it is, it’s a Godsend,” Ebaugh said.

Ebaugh and a handful of other UGM clients meet every Monday to run with Paula Harkin. She owns the Portland Running Company and is a marathoner and a mission volunteer. But Harkin wanted to do more.

“I thought, what can I do? I bought turkeys, I can serve dinner, but there’s something else I can do,” Harkin said. “I feel like I have a little bit of a message I can bring through running. So I woke up one day and I knew it! I knew I was going to do this!”

Harkin and her UGM runners usually jog down to the waterfront and do a loop between the Steel and Hawthorne bridges.

Some people have never run before and need to occasionally stop. Others, like Jair Hoover, ran track in high school and he easily pulls away from the front of the pack.

Hoover said running makes him feel better and it motivates him to do better.

“You’ve got your mind and your body, but you also have the spiritual side to it and that’s really awesome,” he said. “It’s actually more of a joy. I’m just happy.”

During their Monday run, Hoover sprinted ahead of Harkin causing her to laugh. Harkin gets emotional talking about the running group and how much improvement she’s seen in just eight week.

“I’m getting so much from it myself,” Harkin said. “But I feel like the group, collectively, they’re supporting each other, they’re setting goals together. I mean, they were just on the streets. They’re all great people.”

After their waterfront loop, the runners return to the Union Gospel Mission to a flurry of high-fives.  In less than two weeks, they’ll all do the Starlight Run 5K together.

It will be Craig Ebaugh’s first race ever and he is a little nervous. But he’s confident he can do it alongside his new running pals.

“I feels really good, especially with all the support.”

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