Keith Russell is running Boston for The Phoenix. Here’s why.

"I want to show that things like this are possible for people like us."


In our “Why I’m Running” series, Boston Marathon runners share what’s inspiring them to make the 26.2-mile trek from Hopkinton to Boston on April 15, 2019.

Name: Keith Russell
Age: 29
From: Charlestown, Massachusetts
Bib #: 26766

I’m Keith Russell, of Charlestown, Massachusetts, and I’m running to raise money for The Phoenix, a gym and sober active community in Newmarket Square that has been an important part of my personal recovery from substance use disorder. This is my first marathon, although growing up, I watched my dad train for and run the Boston Marathon multiple times. I remember biking alongside him on the Charles as he went out for his weekend long runs, going to the annual L Street Running Club pasta dinner, and most vividly, standing on a railing on the corner of Hereford and Boylston — anxiously waiting and then finally screaming with excitement as he rounded that corner on his way toward the finish.


On Marathon Monday 2011, I was just starting to get sober again and found myself back on Boylston Street. I was overcome with the same emotions and memories that I had been disconnected from for so long, put out by years of addiction. In that moment the desire to run was reignited and I reconnected to those childhood dreams. I am running to honor my dad, the countless friends I‘ve lost to this disease and pave the way for the thousands who will walk into The Phoenix this year. I want to show that things like this are possible for people like us. I had always wanted to run a marathon, but because of my struggle with addiction, I never thought it would be possible.

Check out our entire “Why I’m Running” series.


Editor’s note: Entry may have been lightly edited for clarity or grammar.