San Quentin Marathon is a feature documentary about The 1000 Mile Club, San Quentin State Prison’s organized, volunteer-run long distance running club. The members of the club have committed a range of crimes, from murder and armed robbery to drug related violations. Many are serving life sentences. They are physically and racially diverse and range in age from their 20s to 70s.
For the men on the inside, running gives them a chance to see themselves as something other than the sum of their crimes and to experience freedom – or something like it.
I first read about the San Quentin Marathon in a GQ Magazine article. Being a runner myself, I could imagine the therapeutic benefits running could have on inmates, and the image of a person running around in circles to find some kind of freedom inside a prison resonated with me profoundly and with cruel irony. As I began my research, I was moved to learn that for some, completing the marathon is their single greatest achievement in life. They say running teaches discipline, gives a space to visualize success, and offers a calm mental place to mend family relationships. What I found most inspiring was learning that, over the years, the impact of The 1000 Mile Club has expanded beyond the prison walls.
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