Monumental Marathon runner overcomes huge obstacles

James Boyd is grateful for his job at Gilchrist & Soames.

Thousands of runners will converge in downtown Indianapolis Saturday morning for the fifth annual Monumental Marathon. Among those planning to go the full distance is James Boyd, a runner with a remarkable story.

Eyewitness News profiled James last year at this time. He was training for his first 26.2 mile race and feeling "nervous."

But James was no stranger to monumental challenges. Two years prior James was homeless, addicted to drugs and alcohol and had just finished a year in prison on battery charges.

He told us he had hit rock bottom, stressing, "I should not be here."

But fast forward to November 2012 and James isn't just back on his feet, he's thriving. After finishing last year's marathon, James took a job at Gilchrist & Soames, which makes soaps, shampoos and lotions for high-end hotels worldwide.

"The greatest thing is I'm working. I can go home with an honest day's pay for an honest day's work," he said.

James credits the non-profit, Back on My Feet with helping turn around his life. Back on My Feet, which has chapters across the country, was founded to help homeless men become self-sufficient through running and mentoring.

James was a member of last year's class, the first in Indianapolis.

"I'm a proactive member of society and I much like this side of the grass. Although I'm busy most of the time, I cannot forget where I came from and how I got here," he said.

Gilchrist & Soames is one of Back on My Feet's corporate partners.

Jason Sims, the head of Human Resources for the company, said the program "has been a great experience for us."

James was the first of three people Gilchrist & Soames hired from the program.

"If you can get up and run at 5:00 a.m. I think that shows an ability to get in a car and drive to work, and obviously we get excited about that," said Sims.

He added, "James is one of those people who's never met a stranger. When we get new people coming in the door, he's one of the first to get up, shake their hand and introduce himself."

James, meantime, never stopped running.

"When I get out of work it's the last thing I want to do after a 12-hour shift, but you know what? It centers me and keeps me going. It's a love-hate relationship," he laughed.

James will run his second Monumental Marathon Saturday to raise money and awareness for Back on My Feet.

"It's given me a new outlook on life," he said.

Besides being a runner, James has also become a mentor at a homeless shelter in Greenfield, where he volunteers on weekends.

"It's my way of giving back. I was there not too long ago, so it's something close to my heart," he said. "So much has been given to me freely, I will spend the rest of my life trying to be better than I was yesterday."

Thirty-six men from Back on My Feet will take part in the Monumental. Two will run the full marathon, six the half marathon and 28 the 5K race.