[UPDATE, Monday, Oct. 10: Chris Sears finished the BAA Half Marathon in a time of 2 hours, 14 minutes and 51 seconds.]
Back in high school, Chris Sears was a track athlete. That was before the drugs.
Sears, 23, has had a rough road since his days doing the triple-jump and hurdles at Whitman-Hanson Regional High School: heroin addiction, coke addiction. A booze problem, too.
But he's been sober for four months, with the help of a running club for homeless men at , a JP-based nonprofit. And on Sunday morning, he aims to be the first member of the Bulldog Running Club to compete in a half marathon.
The race is the put on by the Boston Athletic Association, the same group that runs the Boston Marathon. It , not far from the homeless shelter at where Sears started running again.
"At first it was an excuse to get out of the building," Sears said of the running club. "I knew it would free my mind. [Now] I'm healthy, I'm more focused."
Social worker Mike Ferrullo founded the club. He'd seen how exercise can transform the lives of anyone facing challenges like depression and drug abuse.
"It’s not a pill doing it for you, you’re doing it yourself," said Ferrullo, whose family has roots in JP.
Ferrullo says five to 10 guys a week run with the club, which does one-mile loops in Franklin Park.
Sears is no longer living at the Shattuck Hospital program. He runs three times a week for a total of about 25 miles. On Saturdays he runs with the group in Franklin Park.
"I feen for it," said Sears in an interview at a Dunkin' Donuts near his residence in Charlestown.
"Feening" is usually used to mean craving drugs or sex — not running.
But running has helped Sears break the cycle of addiction, says Ferrullo.
"He’s in early recovery," Ferrullo said, "The challenges are enormous. All the consequences of his addiction are right in front of him. He doesn’t have a job, doesn’t have money. It’s really hard to hang in there and stay sober. Most people relapse. Hopefully the running has helped him. He’s got some guts."
Sears says his goal is simply to finish Sunday's race. And he said he can't wait to see the look on his parents' faces when he crosses the finish line.
"I know it's going to feel good to do something good for them," said Sears.
The begins at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday in Franklin Park.