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Rehab residents train for Ukrop’s Monument 10K as part of 10-week recovery program

Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 5:29 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 20, 2022 at 9:55 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K is just days away. Many people across central Virginia are preparing for the big race, including The Healing Place, a local recovery group in Richmond that supports men and women battling addiction.

Dozens of residents from the Healing Place program have been training for weeks, and Saturday, April 16, the group completed their final practice before the big race. For them, crossing the finish line means a new beginning.

“It’s been awesome. I never would’ve thought at 50 I’d be training for a marathon,” said resident Patti Worrell.

For the past nine weeks, Worrell has been “walking the talk” on change.

“When the opportunity was given to me, I said, ‘sure; I’ll try it,’” Worrell.

Worrell has been training for the Monument 10K and nearly 30 other recovery program participants from The Healing Place, a residential recovery program of CARITAS.

“It has been awesome. Just doing something that I wouldn’t normally do,” said Worrell.

Like other runners in the 10K, Worrell’s goal is to reach the finish line. But the race means so much more than that to her; it’s a fresh start.

Worrell is a recovering addict who turned to alcohol and drugs to numb and forget the pain in her life.

“No matter how many times I told myself, ‘I’m not going to do it this time,’ or ‘I’m only going to do this, I’m only going to do that,’ it didn’t end up that way,” said Worrell.

But Worrell knew at the end of the bottle there was something else.

“I had reached the point in my life where I couldn’t do it anymore. I realized I couldn’t fix myself. I need some help,” said Worrell.

She joined the Healing Place women’s recovery program in Sept. 2021.

“It affords us the opportunity to work on ourselves and get educated on addiction,” said Worrell.

It’s there where the program combines running and recovery as a way to heal a person’s addiction and propel them in the right direction.

“It’s mind, body, and spirit, so getting out and getting psychical is really great,” said Family Resource Coordinator Anna Murphy. “They’ve really been putting in the effort over a long period of time.”

”We meet every Saturday for 10 weeks in this parking lot, and we circle up and do checking in. We do a warm-up and then take off through the city,” said volunteer coach Sara Sitkiewicz.

Each week the route varies, but the group often runs through Manchester, along the James River, and even into downtown Richmond.

Sitkiewicz says the group started week one with one mile for the first run; the routes get longer each week with the goal of completing the 10K by race day.

“I want them to see that they’re capable of more than they thought they can do,” said Sitkiewicz.

Since 2012, more than 100 men have gone through this program, and this year marked the first time that the Women’s Healing Place was added to the 10K training team.

“This means so much for people to set a goal, and it’s a huge accomplishment for them,” said Sitkiewicz.

Worrell says she’s not sure how it will go, but she’s ready to hit the ground running.

“If I don’t take a chance on something different, and I don’t know if I can’t do it if I don’t try,” said Worrell.

Race day is Saturday, April 23, and there’s still time to sign up for the big race if you would like to join.

Packet pick-up for the 10K starts April 21 at the Richmond Raceway.

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