Members of San Quentin’s 1000 Mile Club ran as many miles as they could in one hour in preparation for a marathon in November. As the usual cast of characters took first, second and third place, Coach Kevin Rumon shared his thoughts on how running helped him overcome throat cancer.
“Although I wasn’t able to run during treatment and only a bit during recovery, running provided the greatest source of personal strength to gut out the cancer battle,” Rumon said. “My 100-mile races are a series of individual steps that I have no control over. If I perform each of those small steps without thinking about the 100-mile scariness, then I am likely to finish the race.”
Rumon is an ultra-runner and member of the Tamalpais Running Club. He comes into San Quentin Prison to coach runners in the 1000 Mile Club. Often he runs alongside incarcerated people during training sessions or keeps track of laps during races. Normally, he is at every club meeting and race.
In 2016, throat cancer limited his ability to participate in track meets. Now in recovery, he’s back on the sidelines at almost every event, but cancer gave him a new perspective that makes him relate to the people he coaches even more.
“Cancer has been the worst thing that has happened to me and one of the best and most productive,” Rumon said. “I am grateful beyond words for the insight and clarity that the journey has provided me. One of the biggest lessons that all of us learn is that we aren’t here very long.”
He began to look on the bright side of his affliction.
“My loss of taste for chocolate and sugar resulted in an improved diet,” Rumon said.
Besides running, Rumon also used music and books, which are also popular with incarcerated people, to get through his ordeal.
“Nowhere else are the truths of the world so generously revealed than in books,” Rumon said. “I read every day now, and music reaches the soul in ways that no other art form can.”
Like most rehabilitated people in prison, Rumon wishes “I could have gained the wisdom that cancer provided me without having my throat radiated 33 times and spending 170 days tethered to a feeding tube, but I suppose I was too much of a blockhead to figure it out before cancer shook me.”
Rumon sees adversity as a chance for self-improvement.
“It is a tragedy of epic propositions to be locked in prison, but the worse outcome is not using the opportunity to do the hard work to discover the better nature of your true self,” Rumon said.
For new 1000 Mile Club member Jason Meisner, bettering himself is exactly why he joined.
“I started in December to get in shape. I’m here to be part of the team. It’s super motivating.”
The top 10 finishers of the April 20 race were: 1. Markelle “The Gazelle” Taylor (9-31/32 miles), 2. Eddie Herena (9-1/8), 3. Chris Scull (8-13/16), 4. Steve Reitz (8-9/16), 5. Vincente Gomez (8-1/2), 6. Steve Brooks (8-1/16), 7. Tommy Wickerd (7-31/32), 8. John Levin (7-7/8), 9. Larry Ford (7-5/8 ) and 10. Bruce Wells (7-17/32).