SKID ROW MARATHON

Here’s how this week’s arts and culture column begins:

Each Monday and Thursday, at 5:45 a.m., LA Superior Court Judge Craig J. Mitchell meets his people in front of downtown’s Midnight Mission for a run through the gritty streets of downtown.

By “people,” I mean fellow members of the running club he founded in 2012, and the subject of the 2017 documentary Skid Row Marathon. Each year, he takes upwards of 50 people from the homeless missions and shelters of LA, flies them halfway across the world, and brings them to run an internationally-recognized marathon.

The documentary profiles four runners—Rafael Cabrera, David Askew, Rebecca Hayes, and Ben Shirley—who end up getting clean, sober, off the streets, and into full, productive lives. During the course of the film, they run a marathon in Accra, Ghana, and another, bigger one in Rome.

When the documentary ends, the Club is about to embark for Jerusalem. “We took 44 people from Skid Row,” says Judge Mitchell by way of an update. “Obviously it was very meaningful. Many of our people were baptized or re-baptized in the River Jordan.”

The Club has also run marathons in Vietnam, Ecuador and the Galapagos. This coming January Judge Mitchell will take 55 runners from Skid Row to Egypt.

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