Updates to the Oregon State Penitentary Runs: Near capacity, but shirts now available!

Runners T-Shirt Design We have written about the Oregon State Penitentiary Runs for a few years now. Both Teresa and myself have competed in these free (and pre-screened) runs, all of which take place inside the walls of the prison. I distinctively remember being one of only four outsiders during my 2014 event, in which I said this:

The one constant question that people have been asking me since the run is, “do you know what they were in for?” The funny thing about it is that I initially thought this would be the only thing on my mind. But in the end, I ended up never really thinking about it. I mean, it’s a prison – there is a reason why people are there. But, for at least an hour or so, it didn’t really matter. It was just like any other race; an opportunity to meet people, interact, and have a silent bond of “being a runner” and accomplishing a common goal with complete strangers. We were just people – just runners – and that’s exactly what these guys are hoping for an hour each month.

After my post went live, we received this email from the inmate race director stating:

Just a follow-up to let you know how much we appreciate your help promoting our running program. I took a look at the blog comments yesterday and was pleased to see so many posts. On June 14th we held our biggest event yet with over eighty participants including 12 guests. We have another 20 guests scheduled for July 18th. OPB radio came in for the last race and did a piece on running in prison. The piece was picked up by NPR and broadcast nationally. As a result, I have received applications from Los Angeles to New York. It all started with a complimentary post on “Run Oregon Blog”.

Our story was then picked up by Runner’s World, and they completed their own article in 2015. It has really been amazing to see the transformation occur over the past few years, and to feel that we had some tiny hand in it. But most of the credit goes to the Athletic Club at OSP and how unique this event is and how well-run a prison-based run can be. We heard from the president of the OSP Athletic Club, with some updates for 2016.

As the exposure has increased, so has the desire for attendance. While this is great, it means that the majority of the 2016 events are already nearing capacity. They recommend calling (503-378-2289) or emailing the Activities Department at the prison re: availability. And since there is obviously no day of race (or even short-term) registration possible, please plan accordingly. As a back-up plan, you may want to start inquiring about 2017, or at the least, consider purchasing their new race shirts – a first for the club!

The events are all put on with funds through the OSP Athletic Club, and they really do mimic a normal race. There is a timing clock and event bibs, water stations, and post-race snacks such as fruit and Gatorade. The money raised from the shirts will be utilized to assist with offsetting those costs. The image above has information for ordering, as well as the ability to choose your color – pretty sweet!

I STRONGLY encourage you to attempt to get into one of these races in your life. I think they have the ability to change people – and not just those inside the walls.

2016 event dates (though all are full).

Race 1         Race 2          Race 3         Race 4        Race 5         Race 6         ½ Marathon          Race 7

3/11/16      4/29/16        5/27/16      6/11/16      7/29/16     8/26/16           9/9/16               10/6/16

Fri.              Fri.               Fri.               Sat.              Fri.               Fri.                    Fri.                     Thurs

About Matt Rasmussen (1599 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.

4 Comments on Updates to the Oregon State Penitentary Runs: Near capacity, but shirts now available!

  1. I ran there a couple years ago. Had about a dozen of us. Very well managed event. Well worth your time to do it. “Fellow Runners” really appreciate a chance to talk with us so-called “normal people”. YES, most felons are pretty good runners!

  2. I had the privilege of running the 10k @ OSP last month and it was awesome. I didn’t think I was going to be uneasy or worried about running with a large group of prisoners, but sitting idle for 45 minutes in the visitor waiting area, staring at magazines from 2007 and looking up at the guard tower through the barred windows brought on an uneasy feeling that was magnified when it became my turn to pass through the metal detector. I started worrying that I would have this uneasy feeling throughout the entire race, I would probably run like garbage, and I wouldn’t even have Spotify to keep me company. WRONG. Once I set foot on the yard, all feelings of uncertainty vanished and I was met by some of the nicest people that I have ever run with. The members of the OSP running club are 100 times more sociable and interesting (way better stories) than anyone you will run next to during an “overpriced-neon-colored-selfie snapping” 10k in Portland. Also, get this… There are no endless porta-potty lines prior to the start! You can just use a normal bathroom when you decide you want to use the restroom! Like a normal human! I suspect that my excitement, stemming from the absence of a terrible honey-bucket village, was on the same level as Magellan’s upon his completion of circumnavigation. The only downside that I might mention is that I cannot get ahold of anyone that can connect me with any of the pictures that were taken throughout the entire race. I would love to have a some photos to document the most interesting and inspiring race I have ran, but I have only ran into dead ends when inquiring about the pictures. Has anyone with previous experience at OSP ever tried to aquire any photos of themselves and had any success? Regardless, I wish I signed up for more than 1 race this year. Can’t wait the 2017 schedule comes out.

    • Glad you had a great time! I have reached out to ask about pictures and will let you know what I find out.

      • Hey, thanks for getting back to me so quickly. Coincidentally, they emailed me a few pics this morning right after I posted the original comment! It took a few weeks and a couple emails to the email that’s on the registration info, and he finally emailed them over to me. I’m sure i wasn’t on the top of their list of priorities and a couple friendly inquires seemed to help. Can’t wait to sign up for the next round of races!

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