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The hills of rural Novato near Mount Burdell provided apt training grounds for distance runner Markelle Taylor, who paroled from San Quentin State Prison March 2, 2019, and ran the Boston Marathon just a month and a half later. Taylor’s personal-best time of 3 hours, 3 minutes and 52 seconds was good enough to qualify the 46-year-old for next year’s Boston Marathon.

Video by Clarissa Resultan and David Novick, Television Specialists
Produced by Jeffrey Callison, Assistant Secretary
Office of Public and Employee Communications

One of the runners in this year’s Boston Marathon was a man only recently paroled from San Quentin State Prison. Markelle Taylor had been incarcerated in CDCR institutions for many years when he returned to a childhood sport: running.

At first, he struggled to run even a short distance. But thanks to the guidance and enthusiasm of San Quentin volunteer running coach Frank Ruona, and the camaraderie of fellow members of the San Quentin 1,000 Mile Running Club, Markelle persevered – and how. In January this year, he ran a personal best in the annual San Quentin Marathon, and did it fast enough to qualify for Boston, the world’s most competitive annual marathon.

If this had been a prior year, Markelle’s qualifying run would have been academic. But not so this year – and that’s because he paroled on March 2. Thanks to the assistance of the Boston Marathon race director, a cadre of supportive volunteers, and permission from CDCR to travel as a parolee outside of his normal area, Markelle was able to make it to the race on April 15.

Markelle’s time of 3 hours 3 minutes 52 seconds was about seven minutes faster than his previous personal best, and it was more than fast enough, as a 46-year-old, to be a qualifying time for next year’s Boston Marathon.

But for now, Markelle Taylor is most appreciative of the opportunity he has earned. “I’m grateful for being given the opportunity to give back in a way that helps others, and to be an example for lifers in California prisons, and my brothers in the San Quentin 1,000 Mile Running Club.”

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Markelle Taylor

I’m Markelle Taylor and I’m a runner, a long distance runner.

I’ve ran four marathons in San Quentin.

I started running ‘cuz a lot of guys been’ gettin’ denied parole and a really close friend of mine that I met when I first got to San Quentin and used to be a positive role was a older gentlemen. So after his fifth denial at the board, he killed himself. He committed suicide.

And so it bothered me. I didn’t want to end up doing that so I just, I started running.

I ran like a half a lap and was tired and was through with it. And it wasn’t until that happened to my friend is when I just pushed myself to run a little bit further than just one lap.

Frank Ruona

It was obvious that he was a talented runner. He could do some good things.


And there we go, 123rd running of the Boston Marathon is underway.

Markelle Taylor

I would call it running therapy. So it is a rehabilitation in running, and it’s reconnecting.

It’s like a community. It’s a family. So all of these things that you get involved in with the running.

Even out here in the running community, it’s a family.

Believe it or not I’m still overwhelmed and I’m extremely appreciative for the opportunity to be of service to everybody that I can be a positive influence to.