When the COVID-19 pandemic hit San Quentin and tents took over the Lower Yard, all sports were tabled and so were some residents’ ways to find their peace.
Despite the obstacles presented by prison hurdles, some residents use the sport of their choice to find the freedom they seek. One of those sports events that have been missing is the 1000-Mile Running Club.
That is the event that resident Mark Jarosik said allows residents at the Q to get out of the element of prison and enter into another reality of calm and serenity when running.
Jarosik is the winner of 2019, 1000-Mile marathon, and he said that it wasn’t just the winning of the marathon that brought him peace, but it was the simple comfort of just getting out on the track and running, doing something he simply enjoys doing.
“For me brisk runs exceeding thirty minutes stimulate cognitive skills, concentration, and sleep quality,” Jarosik said.
He said it’s the nightly jangling of the guards’ keys that keeps him awake.
“There is no room for peaceful reflections, no time for anyone to relax without the loud sounds of the guards on the PA systems,” said Jarosik.
Many days and nights are spent in the discomfort of those conditions but, when running Jarosik experiences a different type of comfort.
“(Running) relieves stress and liberates anxieties. Even more important, running satisfies my fervent passion to elude reality if only temporarily; to reflect, to dream, to feel free.”
Now that the Club is almost back in full sprint, Jarosik anticipates getting back to doing what takes him to that peaceful place.
“I look forward to starting back running but, due to an ankle injury I have to start back at the beginning of the New Year,” Jarosik said. “I wish I could join the guys. Because for me running is a way to establish time while in prison but, I wish all the 1000-Miles runners good luck.”
Since Jarosik can’t join the team yet, he has found another program to participate in that substitutes for the euphoric feelings he receives from running.
“I participate in a Governor Newsom implemented a program called the Peer Literacy Mentor Program (PLMP). It is a good distraction for me,” Jarosik said. “It’s a construction of thought processing program. Myself and a group of other guys, about 20 of us, are being trained to be tutors. It’s a good way for me to give back.”