Local filmmaker's 'Thirteen One' highlights recovering heroin addicts' stories

Kyle Couch is a metro Detroit filmmaker.

His documentary "Thirteen One" follows recovering heroin addicts as they train for a half marathon. It premieres Thursday night at the Main Art Theater in Royal Oak.

"I just really wanted to grab that story because I knew, man this is really an inspirational story to tell," Couch said.

The men and women profiled in the film took part in a one-year life skills program through Grace Centers of Hope in Pontiac. Training for a half marathon was part of the program.

"These residents, these people were clean for under a year and decided to take this on,' he said.

Ashley Estepp, who was featured in the film, says she had never run a day in her life.

"I was like well I will give it a try but it's never gonna happen, and I got up one day, the first run we ever did was a mile, and I came home and got sick," she said.

But Ashley preservered.

"I really truly believe in this story and it's ability to one, help those who are recovering see that there is hope and two, to really take away that stigma that is placed on a lot of people who are recovering, including myself, that says once an addict, always an addict," she said.

Kyle himself is also a recovering heroin addict. His father passed away when he was a teenager. One drug led to another and then:

"I started doing heroin and before I knew it, I was sticking a needle in my arm and shooting opiates into my veins," he said.

But eventually Kyle got clean. He started running half marathons and then a marathon.

"Waking up and training for a half marathon and consistently sticking with it is so similar to waking up every day and sticking to recovery. I really just saw this parallel and so I thought of this fantastic story that merged the two and tells these people's stories," he said.

And after 15 long weeks of training:

"I passed the finish line and it was one the best moments of my whole entire journey through this recovery," Ashley said. 

Thirteen One doesn't a distribution partner right now but Kyle has entered it into several film festivals, including Sundance and Tribeca.

You can catch the film Thursday night at the Main Art Theater in Royal Oak. There are two showings, one at 7 p.m. and another at 8:30 p.m.