INCARCERATED PERSON RAN ULTRA-MARATHON TO RAISE MONEY HELPING THE FAMILY OF CORRECTIONAL OFFICER WHO LOST HIS LIFE
A person incarcerated at Salinas Valley State Prison raised over $7,000 by running an ultra-marathon for the family of an officer who had died.
Timothy Gridley ran for nearly six hours straight with a group of friends who rotated on and off the running track to support him.
Two hours into his run, as to be expected, Gridley’s mind started playing tricks on his body.
“My brain is telling me to stop,” he said. “[But] I like that challenge. It drives me to keep going.”
People pledged donations for every mile that Gridley ran. His effort was not for personal gain or for a medal. Instead, it was to help the family of a friend who suddenly died in a car accident in 2018.
“As bad as this may hurt right now, the reward is in the end, the feeling of accomplishment and achievement,” he said.
What makes Gridley’s ultra-marathon different from any other isn’t how far he ran, but for whom and where.
His friend was Humerto Ayala, a correctional officer at Salinas Valley State Prison where Gridley is serving 15-to-life for second-degree murder. And he ran his laps in the prison’s yard, all of 106 laps in a circle with staff and fellow incarcerated people cheering him on.
The rare friendship between an officer and an incarcerated person was sparked by a random act of kindness. A few years ago, Gridley got into a heated argument with a guard. Officer Ayala intervened and defused the situation, saving Gridley from potentially serious punishment.
Gridley said afterwards they would always say good morning to each other and joke about their sports teams, “like two men talking to each other, not an officer, not an [incarcerated person], just two men who built a relationship.”
To deal with the grief of losing his friend, Gridley began to run. As he started feeling better, that’s when he came up with the idea to channel his running into something positive and help give back for his selfishness and bad decisions that landed him in prison.
Gridley only set out to raise $5,000. However, after five hours and 53 minutes of running, Gridley crossed the finish line, raising $7,108.
“This is special, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my life for sure,” he said.
According to Associate Warden Ed Borla, Salinas Valley has been trying to operate more humanely since 2019 in an effort to reduce violence at the prison.
Seeing an incarcerated person raise money for a correctional officer’s family is not the norm, but under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to create a new “California Model,” normalizing better relations between staff and incarcerated people is the goal.
“I’m feeling great,” Gridley said. “We got a lot of good energy.”