“Those people are out of their minds!” That’s what Robert M. thought last year, when he saw other youth at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility training to run a marathon on the facility’s grounds.
But he also noticed something else. “Some of the people who finished last year were more out of shape than I was.” So he decided he’d run in this year’s marathon. “Now it’s seven months later,” he said after he’d finished the race, “and here we are!”
On April 28, six youth started and finished all 26.2 miles of the Mac-athon: Johnathan B., David G., Trei H., Kyle J., Robert M., and Chris W.
Organizers believe that this is the only marathon run inside a secure youth facility anywhere in the U.S. And this year marked the third annual event at MacLaren. (Johnathan, Trei, and Chris all ran in last year’s marathon. For Robert, David, and Kyle, this marathon was their first.)
What made this year’s race stand out was that the six young men decided ahead of time that they would run the race as a group.
“When I ran last year, I was my own success, in a sense,” Trei said. “If I had to stop, then I stopped. I didn’t depend on anybody else. This year, it about the team, and we were only as strong as our weakest link. So if one of our teammates was hurting, then we were all hurting, you know?”
They stayed together as a pack throughout most of the race, though they spread out towards the end. But when it came time to cross the finish line, those in the lead waited by the administration building for the rest to catch up. Then they all finished as a group.
“We set a goal to start as a family and finish as a family,” Johnathan said afterward. “That was so amazing. It’s always going to be in my mind.”
As for Robert, once he set the goal of attempting the marathon, determination kept him going until the end. “I knew I was going to finish,” he said. “I knew I couldn’t run the whole thing — I’d have to walk some of it. But I was willing to crawl on my hands and knees — whatever it took to get across the finish line.”