Whether it’s wildfires or pandemics, the San Quentin (SQ) 1000 Mile Club faces challenges getting its running events back on track.
“A lot of us caught COVID and we were worried about how the virus would affect our lungs, so our training got off to a slow start,” said club President Tommy Wickerd.
However, for the second year in a row, the club will have to cancel its annual marathon in November due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Club normally begins its running season in January with a speedy one-mile race. They then gradually build to a 26.2-mile marathon in November by holding monthly races.
This year the club will begin in September with a three-mile race.
Thousand Mile Club members say that not having running events is like not having access to other rehabilitation programs and running teaches some of the same tools as other self-help groups. They also say it has helped save their lives.
Club member John Levin hated running before he joined the 1000 Mile club five years ago.
“My running career began after suffering a near-fatal heart attack in May 2012,” said Levin. “After waking up from a triple bypass surgery, I made the appropriate lifestyle changes, which included running.” Levin has participated in several SQ marathons and he believes running helped him survive COVID-19.
Other members who are passionate about the Club have run marathons and persevered to get to the finish line. They have walked, limped, and crawled just to complete the race. However, Club members do have some concerns about the new COVID-19 variant and what it might cause.
“I’m a little concerned about the Delta variant and this place blowing up again as our population increases,” said Troy Dunmore. “A couple years ago it was the wildfires, now this.”
Club member Fidelio Marin has been dealing with serious medical issues since the outbreak of COVID-19. However, he had a third-place finish in 2019 behind the Club’s fastest runner, Markelle “The Gazelle” Taylor, who had an impressive marathon time of 3:18:24. Marin trots along the track several times a week at a much slower pace.
The virus did not affect everyone the same. Before COVID, Club member Steve Reitz shaved an impressive 14 minutes off his 2018 Marathon time when he clocked in at 3:41:53 in 2019. Since then Reitz maintains his workout and he tries to keep in shape. He anticipates when he can test his skills again.
“I just hope I’m still in shape and not injured when we finally get a chance to run again,” said Reitz. “It’s hard to stay focused without the monthly races.”
Club member Mark Jarosik came in second place to Markelle Taylor in 2019 with a time of 3:16:38. Jarosik is the reigning SQ marathon champion. But he is currently dealing with an ankle injury. Doctors recommended that he not run or walk for three months.
“That’s disappointing news,” said Jarosik. “It’s hard to go three months without running.”
Jarosik looks forward to finally getting his shot at breaking the SQ marathon record of 3:10:42 set by Taylor.
“I just want to get healthy enough to have one more chance to beat Markelle’s record here at San Quentin and I’ll be satisfied,” said Jarosik.