Latest Posts:

The Oregon State Penitentiary Running Program and racing within the walls

Oregon_State_Penitentiary_gateOne of the more unique running programs in the state does not run the Pearl, take to the trails in Redmond, or meander up to Forest Park for a long run. In fact, many of the members of the program can't actually go anywhere at all.

The Oregon State Penitentiary Running Program, formed in the 1970’s, currently has more than 270 registered runners within its walls. In 2013, they held a variety of running events, including the first ever High Wall Half Marathon in September.

There are 8 “races” that are being held in 2014, the first of which being held later this month:

  • 3/29/14
  • 4/26/14
  • 5/24/14
  • 6/14/14
  • 7/18/14
  • 8/15/14
  • 9/6/14
  • 9/12/14 = 2nd Annual High Wall Half Marathon
  • 10/3/14

The location of the races themselves are within the walls of the maximum security prison.  Each run will be on the quarter-mile oval track, which inmates themselves use exclusively every day for 90 minutes. Runners will “pass through the weightlifting area (the iron pile) and handball courts in the shadow of the 26-foot penitentiary wall”. Not exactly a race route you see every day.

But don’t think that you are out there on your own.  Groups have been running alongside inmates for years. The running program owes much of its initial momentum to the support of Steve Prefontaine, as his speeches resonated with many inmates and his encouragement to focus on training and racing instead of prison distractions still hits home today. Even more recently, U of O track coaches have spoken to inmates, given seminars on running, and even brought their college runners behind the walls to race.  Just like we utilize running as a way of keeping ourselves centered, keeping motivated on a goal, etc, this is a rehabilitative program that provides the same opportunities for those within the walls.

Some details:

  • All events are free of charge
  • Per the supervisor of the program, Ray Austin: The supervision level is direct and vigilant but accommodating.
  • Both males and females are able to attend, but must be over 18 years of age
  • No headphones or cell phones allowed
  • Men and women over 18 are welcome to attend
  • The program supervisor will be keeping split times and will send to us here at Run Oregon for those who want to know if they ran a little faster with the nervous energy they may feel.
  • You must send in your registration application 10 days prior to the race. Also, you can call the program supervisor at (503)-373-1834 or email: Ray.T.Austin@doc.state.or.us

The Oregon State Penitentiary Running Program (Salem)
When: 1115a on the above listed Friday and Saturdays
Where: Oregon State Penitentiary
Register: FREE; Participation is by application only. Fill out and mail it to:

Ray Austin, Athletic Club staff advisor
Oregon State-Penitentiary
2605 State Street
Salem, Oregon 97310
Attn: SKJI0k Race.

Advertisements
About Matt Rasmussen (1070 Articles)
Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching the Olympics, sampling craft beers, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010. Matt joined the Run Oregon team in October 2011, and since then he has spearheaded the blog’s efforts to cover product reviews, news about businesses related to running, and running events in the Willamette Valley.

2 Comments on The Oregon State Penitentiary Running Program and racing within the walls

  1. This is pretty interesting! In the third edition of the Daniels Running Formula, the author remarks about the variety of runners he’s coached, including prisoners who’ve managed to amass 40+ miles per week just by running the perimeter of the prison yard. I guess that’s less monotonous than a treadmill, but not by much. Pretty impressive.

  2. Geli Heidelberger // March 8, 2014 at 11:51 AM // Reply

    Wow, that is an awesome program! Friends of mine started a running group at the Coffee Creek women’s prison, and it was a very rewarding experience for both sides.

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Running in Prison – An experience unlike any other at the Oregon State Penitentiary races | Run Oregon
  2. New Goal! #26 – Run an Oregon State Penitentiary Race | couponbomb

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: