Skid Row Marathon (2017) Review


Craig Mitchell is a criminal court judge in Los Angeles and he starts up a running club on Skid Row. Helping homeless people to run international marathons.


Everything about this documentary is heartwarming and incredible, Craig Mitchell must be one of the greatest people around. The running club is for long distances and ran out of the Midnight Mission. This is where homeless, addicted or those coming out of the prison system find support. The long distances they run together lifts spirits and gives them a sense of purpose.

The people who get involved in running had never ever thought they would be a runner and I feel that makes it even more inspiring. Showing that if you put your mind to it and show good commitment anyone can take up running and even complete marathons. I am runner myself and seriously found myself close to tears at times watching this documentary, not for sad reasons though for happy reasons. That these people were given a second chance and running is something that keeps them from falling back into a life of crime, drink and drugs.

Within the documentary we get to know four different people. All have different stories and want nothing more than to make the most of the second chance they have been given.

Rafael Cabrera spent most of his life in prison for murder, he uses his second chance and being out on parole to help families of those incarcerated. He really comes across as such a nice man, who made a very silly mistake when he was younger and wants to make amends. He was going to be taken to Africa for the marathon but that was stopped due to him still being on parole. But when he manages to prove he has changed he is given a truly amazing experience and that seriously made me want to cry!

David Askew was one of the first members in the running club and was used as a role model for others. He spent ten years living on the streets before realising that was not the life he wanted and moved to the Midnight Mission where with the running club got a second chance wanting to be an artist and being helped by Judge Craig to fulfil his potential.

Ben Shirley had not only his career but his life destroyed by alcohol and drugs, losing everything in the process. He turns 50 during the documentary and when he joined the running club he weighed nearly 300lbs so to see his transformation from that into a marathon runner is inspiring. Not only that but getting back into his music and realising that it is never too late to turn everything around no matter on your age.

Rebecca Hayes had been living on the streets heartbreakingly with her infant son and moved to LA in hope of a change, that wasn’t meant to be when she continued to use drugs and drinking. Ending up in the family shelter at the Midnight Mission, something which I think makes her story more tragic is having her son with her. The discipline from running is something she transfers into her everyday life and that is very good to watch.

Judge Craig Mitchell is a true inspiration and the running club started when a man he sentenced to prison had approached him after his release to come and visit the Midnight Mission. This was when his running marathon idea was created, with the commitment and discipline needed to complete the training sessions let alone run the full marathon and that could transfer into life skills. Those who stick with the programme and training are promised a free trip to run an international marathon which is not cheap at all to do.

The truly amazing fact that comes from watching this documentary is that sport/fitness/health really can help not only your body but your mind as well. The mindset change in the individuals involved in this was fantastic to watch. I know it won’t work for everyone and some of them will relapse but the fact they are given an opportunity for a different path. Especially considering it was all set up by a Judge who shows that he really does believe that people can change and that one mistake should not define someone. I feel that is something that should really be thought about when looking at different crime that has been committed.

An inspiring documentary that just shows the power of sport and wanting to achieve different goals.

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