An award winning coach, a humanitarian judge, and two former San Quentin residents came together at The Q July 20, 2019 to participate in the 2nd Annual Skid Row Running Club One Hour San Quentin Fun Run.
The Skid Row Running Club was founded by Los An- geles Superior Court Judge Craig Mitchell, whose mission is empowering the most marginalized. Mitchell believes that by giving people more opportunities, they make better decisions. The Skid Row Running Club seeks to elevate the human condition one mile at time.
“We just finished a documentary on The Skid Row Running Club. Its about Judge Mitchell, who trains drug addicts, homeless people, criminals and others to run marathons.” Said Gabi Hayes, a documentary Film-maker. “If the participants stay out of trouble, stay clean and train hard and stay with the program. Judge Mitchell will take them on a marathon some where in the world.” Gabi and her husband have followed The Skid Row Running Club to Rome, Vietnam, Jerusalem and headed to Ecuador to film the Club’s run in the Marathon de Guayaquil in October.
“We brought about 20 people with us today. I talked with many of them as I ran the track, and they all said they were having a wonderful time,” said Judge Mitchell.
During the event, Coach Frank Ruona was presented with the Jefferson Award by KPIX CBS for community service. “This is the first time 1000 Mile Running Club has had any outside running club to come in and run with us,” said Coach Ruona “I know these guys really appreciate it.”
Ralph Ligons, who is an original member and co- founder of The San Quentin’s 1000 Running Club with Coach Ruona in 2005 said the club is open to everyone who wants to join. He said that running improves your physical, emotional and mental health.
Eddie Herena 36, a alumni member of The San Quentin 1000 Miles Club and former San Quentin News’ Camera- man, was very instrumental in bringing awareness to SQ’s 1000 mile club during his time at The Q, Herena returned to support both Running Clubs and to encourage many of the men that he had come to know that they too could make a successful transition back into society as he has done so.
“Its not even about the run- ning club. Its beyond that. Iwasinthisplaceforeight yearsandIgottoknowalotof the people,” Eddie said. “It’s good to see them, but sad to see them still here.
Markelle Taylor 46, also a former resident of the Q and an alumni member of The San Quentin 1000 Mile Club, who won the 2018 Skid Row One Hour SQ’s Fun Run with a distance of 9.3 miles, returned this year to give back to the club that he got so much from. “I am not lying, I am happy to see you guys. I wanted that experience of being able to come in and then been able to just walk right back out prison,” said Markelle who paroled five months ago. “I do race on the weekends. I’ve ran a full marathon and a to- tal of 25 races since I’ve been out.” Since his release Makelle has ran in the Dip sea Race on June 9, 2019 and the 2019 Boston Marathon April 5, and it showed, because he ran a blistering 10-1/2 miles plus in 60 minutes to win this years SQ’s Skid Row Fun Run.
SQ’s 1000 Mile Club Coach Kevin Rumon, said that try to keep every member after they are parole connected to the Club to the extent they want to.
A total of 62 runners completed the race. After the race, every one chatted for a while as all the runners total laps were being counted, before making their way up to North Block Dining Hall.
“When I get around mile 20 in a Marathon. I say a prayer for the murder victims, be- cause I want in some way for their presence to empower me for the last 6 mile of the race.”
Judge Mitchell said addressing the crowd as everyone was socializing over a San Quentin Sack lunch.
—Leonard F. Brown contributed to this story