Before the start of their season opening six mile race, members of the 1000 mile running club paid tribute to former San Quentin (SQ) resident Dan McCoy, who was killed by a hit and run driver in early January.
McCoy was riding his bike in San Jose near Highway 101 when he was struck by a cargo van. The avid runner spent decades in prison and was out for only 67 days before he was killed.
“I met Dan for lunch on December 22, 2021, a couple days after he paroled,” coach Frank Ruona, wrote in a letter. “We had a good lunch and he seemed to be happy with the transitional house he was at in San Jose. He showed me the area where he was able to run.”
Tommy Wickerd, the club president, met McCoy over a decade ago. “I met Dan 15 years ago at Lancaster’s honor yard. He was a good guy, kind of quiet and kept to himself,” said Wickerd.
John Levin, a veteran runner, remembers McCoy as a runner who was always in the zone. “He always had a smile on his face very enthusiastic runner, always cruising the track, headphones on having a good time,” said Levin.
Darren Settlemeyer, another club veteran, also remembers McCoy. “I knew Dan for a while. He was always approachable. He was easy to talk to and if he was down he never put his feelings off on anyone else.”
McCoy was 60 years old when he passed away. The driver of the hit and run was later identified and arrested.
*The Tribute Race*
It was a cold, gray, and somber morning. But the moment of remembrance ended and the black 1000 Mile Club banner was hanging on the baseball scoreboard where it was caressed by the wind. Men could be seen congregating for practice on the baseball field of dreams nearby.
Surprisingly, a pack of almost 40 runners lined up beneath the scoreboard to sign up to participate in the six mile race. Most of them were new to the club. J. Strange commented that it was because many thought it was a $1,000 dollar race rather than a 1000 Mile Club race.
San Quentin’s fastest runner, Mark Jarosik, was back in action. But as soon as the race began, he was no longer a clear favorite to win.
Jarosik was blown away by new runner J. Davis, who finished in first place in a time of 42:38 while Jarosik took second with a time of 44:20.
Despite the racing clock malfunction and temporary security alarm that recalled North Block from the yard, the race went off without a hitch. It began at 9:05 a.m., while the yard was fully alive with sports activity. There was baseball, volleyball, horseshoes, tennis and even a huge basketball game going on to determine “who runs the yard.”
J. Davis got out hard and fast, setting a blistering six minute per mile pace before settling into a comfortable seven minute mile pace to finish out the event. R. Hernandez, another new runner, chased Davis for four miles while dressed in all blue CDCR clothing. Rookie Jorge Cuevas had pulled ahead of Mark Jarosik for third.
Before it was over Hernandez dropped out to go to an appointment and Cuevas fell back into a comfortable fourth place finish of 45:20, just behind Luis Rodriguez-Ponce who snagged third in a time of 45:10. Veteran runner Marin Fidelio rounded out the top five with a time of 45:35.
J. Strange was noticeably absent from this event due to a hip injury he sustained during a fall on the basketball court. But he helped keep time stats during the race and hopes to be ready to run again this season.