Downtown Eastside running group takes on the Sun Run

Downtown Eastside running group takes on the Sun Run

Thousands of runners are gearing up for Sunday's Vancouver Sun Run, including a special group of residents from the  Downtown Eastside.

The Carnegie Community Centre running group has been training for weeks for the 10-kilometre road race. Participants range in age from 28 to 70.

Aly Lane, the group's programmer, says the club presents a unique opportunity in the neighbourhood — one of the city's poorest.

"I definitely see a big confidence boost in these folks ... Focusing on health is a really big opportunity through this group and an opportunity these folks don't get especially in terms of sport and being active."

Garnett Weins, a DTES resident and running group member, says the group has had a positive impact on the neighbourhood and is an outlet for those struggling with mental health problems or addiction.

"If they can do a bit of running, they can break out of whatever bad habits they have had and it gives them something to look forward to," he said.

Lane says the group — which was organized eight years ago — has also been able to attract some sponsorship to help with running shoes, gear and training. The Vancouver Sun Run has also covered registration costs for the group this year.

"Run gear is super important when you're out there and it's a big confidence boost for folks. We're really lucky for that."

Lane says the group has been training for the past three months every weekend and is ready for Sunday's 10 kilometre race, even though the weather is expected to be rainy.

Weins, who has run in three previous Vancouver Sun Runs, says he's aiming for a 55 minute run.

The 2017 Vancouver Sun Run takes place on Sunday, April 23.

Listen to CBC's The Early Edition's interview with Aly Lane and Garnett Weins: