Markelle ‘the Gazelle’ Taylor talks about his passion for running on the Morning Show
Former San Quentin resident and 1000 Mile Club runner, Markelle “the Gazelle” Taylor, recently appeared on the CBS Morning show that features Gayle King.
On a new series called “Pushing the Limits,” Taylor sat with journalist David Begnaud and talked about beginning his life again on a segment titled “A New Starting Line.”
Taylor was granted parole after 18 years in prison, on a 15-years-to-life sentence, for the death of his unborn son. He said he got into an altercation with his girlfriend and punched her in the stomach. After, the baby stopped moving.
“The instinct came on: What the Hell did I do? Why did I do this?” Taylor asked himself.
The CBS segment began with Taylor running into a sunrise with at a local high school’s track. He wore his black baseball cap turned backwards, a dark gray tank top and black shorts. The scene fades to Taylor running through the beautiful downtown streets of a city in Northern California, then to running inside San Quentin prison.
Taylor told Begnaud he developed a passion for long-distance running on San Quentin’s Lower Yard track; a passion that paved the way for him to run the Boston Marathon twice and finish in the top 5% of all runners.
“I got an emotional high,” Taylor said.
When he came to prison, Taylor carried a lot of pain but running helped pull him out of the pain. It gave him purpose.
As a young boy, Taylor said his family never told him he mattered or treated him like he mattered. He experienced much violence in his home. He and his siblings used to get beatings for failing to clean the house. He said he was normalized to believe violence was okay.
“We got whupped out of our sleep,” Taylor explained.
Only his teachers told him they were proud of him.
Diana Fitzpatrick, a 1000 Mile Club coach who helped Taylor train for Boston, said it made her happy to see Taylor finally feel like he mattered.
“You showing him that he mattered is why you got the best out of him?” Begnaud asked Fitzpatrick.
“I have always believed in Markelle and I have always trusted him,” she said with teary eyes.
A lot of the guys Taylor used to run with on the club got an opportunity to see him on the CBS Morning show from their cells.
“To see him running free on nationwide TV was an awesome surprise,” said Tommy Wickerd, 1000 Mile Club president. “He gives us hope of a better future for ourselves.”
Darren Settlemeyer remembers buying Taylor his first pair of running shoes when he heard that Taylor ran track in college.
“As soon as we started to run together, he was too fast,” said Settlemeyer. “I told him to get back here; at least for tonight you’re going to run with me. I was like a turtle trying to run with a cheetah.”
Mark Jarosik was Taylor’s closest competitor on the Lower Yard track. Before Jarosik arrived at San Quentin, he used to read the San Quentin News and cut out the 1000 Mile Club’s articles. He trained hard in an attempt to knock Taylor off his throne.
“I underestimated both his speed and endurance,” said Jarosik. “What was I thinking?”
Jarosik got to know Taylor and discovered that they were both born in Cook County, Illinois. He said he was proud of Taylor and to see Taylor’s marathon record at San Quentin pushed down to 3:10:42.
Jarosik set the third fastest time with 3:16:48. Even now, with Jarosik in his 50s, he is still chasing Taylor’s 1000 Mile Club record.
After Taylor discussed his life, Begnaud asked him, “Who is Taylor now?”
“Someone who stopped running from his fears and anxieties and who is paying his debt to society by having a positive influence on others,” Taylor responded.
When asked what his tombstone would say when he passed away, Taylor said: “He fell but he got up, and he changed the lives of a lot of human beings for the better.”
Taylor said running helps keep him accountable.
After the segment, Begnaud said, “As human beings I feel like we have an obligation to give people a second chance.”
“I’m sure he is haunted by the death of his son,” said Gayle King. “We are products of our environment. Not to excuse at all what he has done, but it’s good to see that he wants to do something better.”