Recipient of a 2018 Winter Miller / Packan Documentary Film Grant
from The Rogovy Foundation

Set both within and outside California’s oldest prison, 26.2 to Life chronicles a year in the life of San Quentin’s 1000 Mile Club.

 

The Marathon

The 1000 Mile Club is a prison running group within San Quentin State Prison whose incarcerated members train with volunteer coaches for an annual 26.2 mile race: 105 laps around an uneven, dirt and concrete path that loops the prison’s crowded lower yard. The volunteer coaches of The 1000 Mile Club are an accomplished, elite group of marathon runners and ultra marathon runners. Over the years, they have dedicated countless hours to guide the inmates toward a life enriched by the discipline and physical dedication demanded by long-distance running. 

As the men prepare for this grueling athletic feat, they also confront the challenges of aging, getting an education and maintaining family relationships behind bars, all while grappling with the reality that they may never again see life on the outside.

 

 
It’s about all the victims, everybody I’ve caused harm to and everybody who was victimized. I dedicate every run, every mile, every half-mile, every quarter, every inch to them.
— Markelle, 1000 Mile Club member
 

 

About San Quentin State Prison

The prison is located in affluent, predominantly Democratic Marin County and is very much embedded in that community. As the best resourced prison in California, San Quentin boasts 3,000 volunteers for an incarcerated population of 3,774 (at 122% capacity). Inmates can sign up to participate in a diverse range of programs, including college courses, individual and team sports, art classes and even a computer coding program. The 1000 Mile Club, the running club, is one of the prison’s volunteer-led programs.

Studies of some programs in San Quentin indicate that participants have recidivism rates that are a fraction of the state average, which is around 60%. Of the 8 members of The 1000 Mile Club members that have been released, none have gone back to prison.

 

 
Being in prison is already pain enough. You might think, do I really need to run to find pain? When the judge first sentenced me to life in prison, I thought many times about taking my own life. But after staring at my situation over the years, I realized that my life is a privilege that my victim doesn’t have anymore.
— Jonathan, 1000 Mile Club member
 

 

the SUBJECTS

The Inmates

How does one create a life with a life sentence? The film will follow several inmates throughout the year leading up to the marathon, and their stories will speak to the human experience of incarceration. These profiles highlight issues such as parole denial, working at Prison Industry Authority, marriage, family, health, nutrition, and aging.

The Released Men

The released men of The 1000 Mile Club range from the homeless to an Employee of the Year to a recently released man trying to find his way in the free world. Their stories are a window into the struggles of rebuilding a life on the outside, often without emotional or financial support. Many remain committed to running, which continues to bring them together long after release.

The Coaches

The volunteer coaches of The 1000 Mile Club are an accomplished, elite group of marathon runners and ultra marathon runners. Over the years, they have dedicated countless hours to guide the inmates toward a life enriched by the discipline and physical dedication demanded by long-distance running.

 

 

The Track

The track in the lower yard is a dirt, concrete and gravel quarter mile loop and contains six 90 degree turns. In order to complete the 26.2 miles the inmates have to run this loop 105 times. 

 
SQ track.jpg