Twenty-two runners lined up for the start of a two-hour race around a bustling prison yard for the 1000 Mile Club annual event. More than a dozen men ran for the entire time.
Markelle Taylor ran at a pace to break his own 2015 two-hour record of 18.6875 miles.
“He’s run 15 and three-fourth miles with 20 minutes to go,” said Coach Frank Ruona. “He’ll break his record.”
With less than 10 minutes left in the race, an institutional alarm sounded. All incarcerated people must sit on the ground until signaled by correctional officers that the alarm has ended. The alarm took more than four minutes. When Taylor started running again he only completed 18.1 miles.
This race marked the first time Taylor didn’t break a 1000 Mile record.
“Stopping and starting is really hard,” said Taylor, adding “I didn’t give up. I wanted to be an example to all those struggling with lupus.” Taylor says he always envisions a cause to honor when he races.
For Larry Ford, the run was a test of heart. The 60-year-old said he woke up with a stomach bug and shouldn’t have run but decided to anyway.
After running an hour and 30 minutes, he said, “I quit. I’m not feeling it today.”
However, with 20 minutes to go, he started running again.
“My brain and body didn’t want to go back out there, but my heart wanted to finish the race,” said Ford. “I went on pure heart.”
Ford completed 13.5 miles.
Sergio Carrillo and Temo Zamora completed more than 15 miles together, using the time to meditate on the word of God.
“I told him, Isaiah 40:30-31, ‘… even the youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall utterly fall; But they that wait upon the Lord renew their strength … they shall run and not be weary …,’” said Carrillo.
Zamora said, “I enjoy running with my brother in Christ and the rest of the group.”
Carrillo added, “It makes it easier to run with somebody. He pushes you; you push him.”
Chris Skull said he hoped to outrun his training partner, Eddie Herena, for second place in this two-hour run. In a previous 10-mile race, Skull was nine seconds ahead in the final lap but ended up losing to Herena by four seconds.
In the half-marathon, Herena led the whole way, beating Skull by 20 seconds for second place.
Herena didn’t run in this race.
“I would have gunned Eddie down,” said Skull. “He didn’t show up; he knows I would have gunned him down.”
The running club started in 2005, after Ruona replied to a post on a runner club website by former S.Q. Community Partnership Manager Laura Bowen-Salzsieter for someone to coach a track club inside San Quentin State Prison.
Ruona says the program has grown considerably since 2005.
“We used to have 10 to15 guys. Now we have about 50 on our roster,” Ruona said.
Over the years, Ruona recruited other volunteers from the Tamalpa Runners Club, like Diana Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick said she started coming in about two years after Ruona. Her husband, Tim, joins her in supporting the runners. For this race, they both kept track of laps and passed out cups of water and encouraging words to the runners going around.
“I always wanted to do it, and now I have the time to,” said Tim Fitzpatrick. “Running makes people feel better about themselves.”
Volunteer Jim Maloney commented, “I’ve been inspired by the community here, the friendship, the camaraderie, the quality of the people. It’s been a really pleasant surprise.”