When Chris Corcoran dons his running shoes for the 2014 Canberra Times Fun Run next weekend, it will symbolise much more than a 10-kilometre race. For the past 10 months, running has been a vital part of the 52-year-old's recovery from chronic alcohol addiction.
"I've always been a runner, ever since I was at school. It's been something I've used to ground myself throughout my life. Unfortunately that life has been pretty much defined by addiction in many ways," he said.
Mr Corcoran was a heavy drinker for 36 years and latterly he could not get out of bed without having a drink. Last October he decided he had to change his life.
He had his last alcoholic drink on October 17, 2013, the day he started detoxification. In January, he entered rehabilitation. Taking up running again has been a core part of his recovery from addiction and depression, he says.
Mr Corcoran always enjoyed running and was quite good at it. However, his running career at university ended with a bad ankle injury. Nonetheless, in 1985 he finished the London Marathon in two hours and 43 minutes; in 1992, he completed the New York Marathon.
But for Mr Corcoran, it is his latest return to running that has been the most treasured. He took part in the Run, Roll or Walk event around Lake Burley Griffin in January, completing in the course in 30 minutes.
As his training progressed, so did his times, and by April he could run 10 kilometres in just more than an hour.
He plans to complete the 10-kilometre fun run on September 7 in less than 50 minutes, and hopes to do a novice triathlon in November. He has also managed to shed 20 kilograms in about 10 months.
It has been an incredibly tough year for Mr Corcoran, who once had a successful career as a geotechnical engineer. He lost his job, was diagnosed with moderate emphysema and learned he had severe arthritis in both hips. He will need a full hip replacement on his left hip within a year; his right hip will need replacing in a few years.
Mr Corcoran knows his road to recovery is not over, but says he is feeling hopeful about the future. He has told his story to encourage others who may be suffering from depression or addiction to seek help.
Readers seeking support can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Registrations for the 2014 Canberra Times Fun Run are open for the 14-kilometre, 10-kilometre and five-kilometre courses and close at noon on September 6. Register at canberratimesfunrun.com.au.