Who's Picking Up Your Trash? DC Trash Runners and Raising Awareness

"When we're running hard up a hill, it doesn't matter what socioeconomic status you come from."

I had the unique opportunity to run with Donna, Anastasia, Darnell and new friends as we picked up trash along the historic H Street corridor.

Back on My Feet gives the homeless a second chance to regain control of their lives. The program's mission also exemplifies several of Runin DC's core values. The first of these is "reflecting on relationships" or seeing how we are all connected. Back on My Feet is not a handout; it is about partnerships and seeing ourselves in others. While running and training, the homeless and the trainers support and challenge each other to strive higher.

Back on My Feet is also about "understanding" or empathizing with people--no matter how different they may appear at first glance.

The neat thing about running is that it is a great equalizer. When we're running hard up a hill, it doesn't matter what socioeconomic status you come from. You are working extremely hard -- rich, middle class, or poor -- all of us have to climb the same hill and have to rely on our God-given strengths and stamina to do it.

The next value is "negotiation," which is exemplified by Back on My Feet's emphasis on goal setting. Participants of the program--both trainers and homeless runners--make a commitment to themselves and each other. This is an especially meaningful decision for the runners, who examine their current lot in life and ultimately know that they can do better.

While picking up trash along H Street, I couldn't help but notice the plethora of plastic bags lying around hither and thither.  Today, more than 20,000 tons of trash end up in the Anacostia River.  It is estimated that 50% of the trash is plastic bags.  DC has recently implemented a wonderful initiative to charge for the use of plastic bags in grocery stores in order to keep the Anacostia trash free.

Innovating and Inspiring
Their response is to commit to running a few miles each day as early as 6am. The "innovation" value is illustrated in the uniqueness of the idea itself. Back on My Feet shows that love for humankind and strength of spirit has endless applications.

Finally, RUNIN is about "Navigation." Likewise Back on My Feet will help the homeless strive to finish the run, train for the next race and aspire to get back on their feet and become both customers and contributors to this great social running continuum.


  1. Beautiful job combining the photos & the video. Thanks so much for helping fire people's imaginations about how to combine a love of sport with community service & building bridges! And thanks, too, for helping to spread the word about Back On My Feet & the DC Trash Runners in particular!

  2. Hi Anastasia,

    Thank you so much for your wonderful support and for your great initiative in volunteering your day to help out the community. Look forward to running with you again in the near future.