By Rahsaan Thomas
More than two dozen members of San Quentin’s running club ran 24 laps around the prison yard in a six-mile race, while a 72-year-old runner showed how coming in last could feel like coming in first.
Steve Wilson, 72, was the last runner on the track. As he ran the final mile of the race, two club members, Mike Keyes, 69, and Darren Settlemeyer, 51, joined him for the final laps.
“A lot of good friends were egging me on. Darren and Mike had finished their races then they jump in with me to help me keep up my pace,” Wilson said. “It sped me up, probably knocking a minute off my time.”
Settlemeyer added, “It’s about picking up our teammates. I see guys do that quite often out here.”
“I run to wake-up alive in the morning”
The 1000 Mile Club members and sponsors cheered as Wilson came in last with a time of 1:03:58 in the April 14 race.
John Levin, 52, beat his personal best record by more than five minutes with a time of 46:35.
He started running after surviving a near-fatal heart attack and triple bypass surgery back in 2012.
“I realized after surviving that I needed to take better care of myself,” Levin said. “I dreaded running the first six months, but the more I ran, the more it became part of my lifestyle. I run where inspirations are; how can you see Mike and Steve and not be inspired?”
Wilson added, “I run to wake-up alive in the morning.”
For Chris Skull, the six-mile race meant beating his training partner and running rival, Eddie Herena, to come in second with a time of 39:08. Herena came in third at 40:25.
“It’s beautiful when you see people accomplish their goals,” Herena said. “Chris gunned me down. It was humbling, but at the same time, I’m really glad for him.”
Steve Reitz came in fourth with a time of 41:21, and Chris Schuhmacher took fifth place at 43:18.
The Prison to Employment Connection sponsor, Diana Williams, watched the race.
“I saw a lot of guys working really hard and streaks of Markelle going by and a lot of camaraderie,” Williams said. “I love the way the men are all supporting each other.”
Markelle Taylor came in first place time with a time of 35:16, missing breaking the club record he set at 34:10:03.
Later he dedicated the race to “never giving up and staying positive and overcoming adversity.”