Thanks to the training of well-known runners from the outside community, members of a San Quentin running club improved their records in the annual one-hour race.
Markelle Taylor broke his 2015 One Hour 1,000 Mile Club record but just missed his goal of completing 10 miles in one hour.
“Markelle went down when he thought there was an alarm,” said Coach Frank Ruona, 69, who has run 38 ultra-marathons and was considered the nation’s number one roadrunner for ages 55-59 by USA Track & Field. “He lost 15-20 seconds, and that knocked him out of the ball park of completing 10 miles.”
When an alarm sounds, all the incarcerated people must sit on the ground until correction officers signal everything is clear. During the race, someone announced “All inmates down,” and Taylor and a few other runners sat on the ground; however, there wasn’t an alarm. Despite the setback, Taylor ran 9-31/32 miles, beating his old record by 1/8 of a mile.
“I ran this race for women and children who have suffered from domestic violence,” said Taylor who dedicates every race to a different cause.
Accomplished runners from the community train and support the running club members.
“We have almost the number one runner in the world here,” said runner Vince Zuehlke. “He took first place in Croatia.”
“Some of the trainers are professionals, and they give us tips on how to run faster,” added Zuehlke.
The professionals include Diana Fitzpatrick, who qualified for the Olympic marathon trials in 1992, 1996 and 2000. She won the Dipsea race twice, in addition to completing 100-mile races. Another is Dylan Bowman, who took first in the Istria Ultra Trail Race spanning 100 miles through Croatia, despite being bitten by a dog.
“I got bitten on the butt 65 miles into the race,” Bowman said. “When I got to the aid station, I realize the dog ripped off the back of my shorts, and there was blood everywhere.”
Bowman slogged through the rest of the April 7 Istria race, and two weeks later, he was counting laps for runners on the prison yard.
“This is a rewarding way to give back to the sport of running that has given me so much,” Bowman said. “I’ve developed a good relationship with the guys, and I like to see everybody improve and get faster.”
Runner Steve Reitz, who took fourth in the one-hour race, said, “It’s extremely motivating to have a connection with the ultra-marathon community. I appreciate how they give us pointers on techniques and breathing.”
Reitz completed 8-15/32 miles.
The April 21 race was scheduled for one hour to show the runners how many miles they could run and at what pace in preparation for the annual marathon in November.
“The most I’ve run is 11 miles, so I have a lot of work to do to complete a marathon,” Zuehlke said.
The 59-year-old joined the 1,000 Mile Club to stay healthy. He said he’s had two heart attacks, has four stents in his heart, and he’s a diabetic. Fellow club member Darren Settlemyer told him about the club. He completed 6-3/8 miles in the hour
Steve Brooks, who joined the club at last year’s marathon, ran 7-3/5 miles in the One Hour Race.
“Humanity is important,” Brooks said. “I’ve been inside 22 years and I’ve never had community support like this, so it means a lot to me. I am happy the club exists, and I’m looking forward to the marathon next year. Running a marathon is a lifetime achievement a lot of people don’t accomplish.”
Eddie Herena reclaimed his spot at second place, overtaking Chris Scull in the ongoing rivalry between the two training partners.
For the first seven miles, Scull had a 40 ft. lead on Herena. Then Herena took the lead and completed 8-29/32 miles while Scull came in third, finishing 8-5/6 miles.
“Good race,” Herena told Scull afterward.
Reitz sees the club as about more than just running.
“This race reminds me of my rehabilitative journey,” Reitz said. “As I was starting to flutter, our coaches helped me see past the pain to rewards at the finish line.”