Known as the "Gazelle of San Quentin," runner Markelle Taylor was among the 32,000-plus participants in Monday's Boston Marathon.
For Taylor, competing in the mecca of all marathons was more than just a lifetime goal. It represented a second chance. And freedom.
Taylor, an inmate in San Quentin (California) State Prison for nearly 18 years on a second-degree murder conviction, actually qualified for Boston behind bars — running a 3:10:42 time in January shortly before he was released on parole March 2.
Taylor's Boston time of 3:03:52 on Monday was a personal best despite rainy and humid conditions that made for a grueling course in conjunction with the race's infamous Heartbreak Hill.
Former San Quentin State Prison convict Markelle Taylor was released in March, and then ran the Boston Marathon in April. (Photo: Frank Ruona)
“There were so many emotions all over the place,” Taylor told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday. “I’m crying just thinking about it. Man, it was like a fantasy to run here. To be able to have that become a reality, I can’t even find the words. I’m still taking in the fact that I’m out of prison, let alone just ran the Boston Marathon.
“Running in prison saved my life. It made my mind and my heart free."
Because of Taylor's late entry in the race after his release on parole, the 46-year-old needed to be a part of a charity team. Fittingly, the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts — an organization that facilitates second chances and helps people overcome social and economic barriers — created a last-minute spot on its team for Taylor, who raised $8,500 in a short month for the charity.
Taylor was a prominent member of the San Quentin 1,000 Mile Running Club coached by Frank Ruona, who also leads the elite Tamalpa Running Club in San Francisco’s Marin County. Taylor ran four marathons during his time behind bars, as 30 or so inmates gather every fall for an official 105-lap marathon course around the lower recreation yard for 26.2 miles.
Running in Boston, where Taylor started in one of the last corrals and had to pass thousands, provided a much different type of challenge.
DEBUT: NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson runs impressive race in Boston
WINNERS: Kenya's Cherono wins men's race, Ethiopia's Degefa women's
SORRY: Boston Athletic Association apologizes for U.S. flag mishap
“Prison helped prepare me for navigating any adversity," Taylor said. "I feel a responsibility to my fellow lifers in prison and my brothers on the running club. One of my missions is to make the most of this second chance to show people in authority that I’m a former lifer and I can be successful and then to show support for (current inmates), to help them see what’s possible.”
Taylor, a track standout in high school, started running in 2015 to manage the stress stemming from his parole hearing. Around that time, his good friend who had his parole denied had committed suicide. Taylor was sentenced t 15 years to life in 2002 on a murder charge. According to court records, Taylor punched his pregnant girlfriend in the stomach, which led to the death of their child.
"Whenever I run, I try to show honor and respect for my victims," Taylor said. "I feel like the only way to make amends in my own heart is to run every mile, ever yard, every inch — dedicating it to those who I've hurt. Every marathon I run next will have that same (mission)."
Source: Read Full Article