The 1972 Olympic Gold Medal winner Eddie Hart shared tips about running and overcoming adversity with the runners of San Quentin’s 1000 Mile Club.
“No matter where you are in life, you have to deal with adversity – that’s life,” Hart said. “I trained every day for 10 years for that race, and the coach had the wrong time schedule. I had to deal with it.”
Hart set a world record in the 100-meter Olympic trials. Many expected him to go on to win the gold at the Olympics in Munich, Germany, but the coach’s scheduling mistake cost Hart a chance to race the 100-meter. He went on to win his gold medal in the 4 x 100 relay.
With 343 homicides in 2017, Baltimore “had the highest murder rate in its history, and by far the highest among the nation’s 30 largest cities,” according to The New York Times 1-17-18
Hart also dealt with the death of his best friend, who drowned when he was 13 years old.
His book, Disqualified, tells the complete story.
Standing on the prison yard, talking with the incarcerated runners, Hart recognized that he shared that persevering spirit with the men striving to do something positive with their prison time.
“I’m uplifted and motivated by these guys,” Hart said.
The June 23 visit marked Hart’s fourth at San Quentin since 2014. He returns every year for a meet called the Eddie Hart-Ralph Ligons Track Meet. Ligons, once incarcerated at San Quentin, ran track with Hart when they were in high school and college.
With the Eddie Hart Foundation, Hart also holds track meets for middle school kids.
At the meet in San Quentin, Markelle Taylor, the 1000 Mile Club’s top runner, dedicated breaking the Half-Mile Run record, with a time of 2:12.28, to Eddie Hart and for world peace.
Tommy Wickerd broke the Over 50-year-old Half-Mile record with a time o 2:44, which he credits to Hart’s advice.
“Eddie Hart’s my inspiration,” Wickerd said. “Last year, I was one of the slowest. I took his advice about pumping your arms, and I used it the last lap. I got extra speed from that.
Hart advised runners to pump their arms, bringing them up high and to lift their legs so that their feet hit the ground almost straight down and push through, rather then extending far out. He also said to keep your whole body relaxed, hips, face and torso. If they tighten up, other muscles may tighten as well.
“Last year I got to hold his medal; this year I got golden advice,” Wickerd said.
Newcomer Robert Seabock, 66, took off with surprising speed in the 400-Meter race. Just feet from the finish line, he fell, bounced up and fell again. He got up slower and completed the last steps past the finish line with a time of 1:24.37.
The current over-60 record for 400 meters is 1:21.86 set by Alberto Mendez, 60, in 2015.
“The new guy would have broken the 60-and-over record if he didn’t fall twice at the end,” head sponsor Frank Ruona said. “He ran pretty well.”
In the 100 Meter and 200 Meter Dashes, Oscar Aguilar, 34, took first with respective times of 0:11.88 and 0:25.12.
Tone Evans, 53, won the 100-Meter Dash in the 50-and-over category. (0:12.63)
Eddie Herena, 34, smoked the One Mile Run. (5:16.19.)
The 4 x Quarter-Mile Relay went to the team of Sergio Carrillo, Charles Truman, Mark Stevens and Michael Keyes. (5:36.55)
Herena, Wickerd, Al Yaseng and Chris Scull won the Distance Medley. (14:12.00)
Tonya Wearner of Science in Sports (SIS) attended the race. Her company makes nutritional products for Olympic athletes. They donated electrolyte hydration to the 1000 Mile Club.
It was Wearner’s first time on a prison yard but not her first time in a prison. Growing up in Baltimore, she visited friends who were incarcerated.
“When Frank invited me, I thought of all my friends that have been through the process,” Wearner said. “I wish there had been programs that offered them these opportunities. It shouldn’t be rare. It should be normal. When someone messes up, you shouldn’t throw them away, you should help them get better.”