Hundreds to run in honor of loved ones who died from addiction
About 600 people will be running Saturday in Pleasant Grove, many of whom have struggled with addictions or have loved ones who have.
The Addict to Athlete 5K will begin at 9 a.m. at Discovery Park, 1511 N. 100 East.
In its seventh year, the race takes place at a different location in Utah County each time.
“We try to pick out a city that has been very affected,” said Jed Jensen, organizer. Jensen said that an active member of the team overdosed last year and she was from Pleasant Grove. They decided to hold the race there to honor her.
About 70 to 80 percent of the participants, if not 100 percent, will be proxy runners, Jensen said. They will be running in honor of a loved one who has died due to addiction or is still struggling with addiction.
“Every person has, in some way, been affected by drugs,” Jensen said.
Although participants were encouraged to register ahead of time, they can come to the race that day and participate, Jensen said. The race is free. Wristbands and shirts will be available for purchase on the day of the race. Any funds that are raised will go to help support the Addict to Athlete organization.
Addict to Athlete began seven years ago in Provo when drug and alcohol therapist, Blu Robinson, noticed that the typical 12-step programs were not enough for many of his clients. He asked five of them to train to run a 5K.
“It worked. They would tell me more on a training run than they ever do in my office,” Robinson said.
That first race was the “Chase the Mayor 5K.” Just before the race, the five runners showed Robinson that they had shirts made that read, “Addict II Athlete.” Then-Mayor John Curtis got a two-minute head start and four of the five runners caught up to him. He noticed their shirts, asked about the program and was impressed with it, according to Robinson.
From there, the program kept growing and there are now six chapters in Utah and has spread to Nevada, with about 3,000 total members. People struggling with any kind of addiction, not only drugs and alcohol, participate in the program.
“What works for one will work for others,” Robinson said.
Addict to Athlete, which is a free support group, holds weekly meeting on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. at Utah Valley University in the Classroom Building, room 409. After a support meeting for about 45 minutes, the group participates in a walk, a run or another type of exercise. Anyone is welcome to attend.
For more information about the race or to make a donation to the nonprofit organization, check out the Addict to Athlete Facebook page or http://www.addicttoathlete.org.