The Homeless are Now Running From LA’s Skid Row to Rome’s Marathon. How a Local Judge is Making a Difference

For most folks who love to run, preparing for and completing a marathon requires an enormous amount of effort, commitment and ongoing dedication. Imagine the multiplied difficulty of training for and completing a marathon when you are a homeless person striving to overcome drug and/or alcohol addiction.

The Honorable Craig Mitchell is a distinguished Los Angeles County Superior Court judge. He also has the distinction of being the founder of Los Angeles’ Skid Row Running Club.

Skid Row Marathon Trailer from Mark Hayes on Vimeo.

In 2012, Mitchell, a dedicated runner himself, visited the Midnight Mission recovery home in downtown Los Angeles at the invitation of a man whom he had previously sentenced to prison. After that fateful meeting, Mitchell decided to share his passion for running with homeless people struggling with substance abuse.

Judge Mitchell suggested that group running could provide the Midnight Mission residents with significant physical benefits, as well as mental focus and goal achievement; all known to be highly beneficial for men and women attempting to maintain sobriety.

The Skid Row Running Club began with only a handful of members, but now more than 20 regularly participate.

In addition to the thousands of hours that Judge Mitchell has dedicated to the SRRC, he has also purchased running shoes and gear for club members. More significantly, he gives club members who maintain consistent sobriety free trips to marathons in distant parts of the world. So far, club members have run marathons in Ghana, Rome, and Jerusalem.

“Skid Row Marathon” in the Los Angeles Film Festival

Now “Skid Row Marathon”, a documentary film which traces the history of the SRRC, has won awards at the 2017 Los Angeles Film Festival. The film’s trailer paints a gripping picture of how the SRRC is changing lives through running. As Judge Mitchell says in the trailer: “Giving someone from Skid Row an opportunity to run a marathon in a glorious city – it is incredibly empowering. It gives them dignity and this is what it’s all about.”

Film producer Gabriele Hayes, of Los Angeles, said her husband, director Mark Hayes, read a newspaper article about the group and wanted to share the story on film.

“It was really important to see one man make a difference in a small, but very effective way,” said Gabriele Hayes, adding that she’s been running with the group for four years.

You can read the full article at

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