A marathon is TOUGH, y’all! Not only is a person running continuously for 26.2 miles, but they have to go through grueling training to get to race day. What helps get a runner to the finish line, however, is a strong support system. Carrie Kelley that support system in Fidel Ybarra on race day.
Ybarra was one of a few inmates that were attending the marathon on work release. As the race progresses, paper cups pile up and runners start shedding layers, discarding clothing to the side. He was working on cleanup when he noticed Kelley was struggling during her 68th marathon attempt. He abandoned his cleaning duties so he could run alongside Kelley for the remaining 22 miles and push her across the finish line.
The support helped, and Kelley wrote about her cheerleader in a Facebook post.
“Without Fidel’s help, I wouldn’t have been able to finish. I was that broken and injured. Fidel isn’t a runner but he’s one of those people who is a true athlete. He ran 22 miles in old work boots and long johns in the hot sun with no prior training. … I saw how much pain Fidel was in, but he wouldn’t quit because he didn’t want me to run alone.”
Ybarra sent over a statement through the Utah Department of Corrections’ communications director explaining what prompted him to give Kelley a friendly boost.
“As people progressed through the marathon, we would pick up discarded clothing as well as trash. While walking and talking with the deputy that was supervising us, a name came up of a dedicated marathon runner, Carrie Kelley, who was running in the Beaver Canyon Marathon, but due to some injuries she was having a hard time running. She was the last runner and we eventually caught up to her.
“I am not sure why I began running with her, but I think maybe I saw a little bit of myself and other inmates in the situation. We are normally left at the back and left to our own devices. I could tell how much she enjoyed running, and I felt like I could not let her finish the marathon alone. I did not know that once I started running, 22 miles later we would cross the finish line. I could have stopped and jumped in the work van with the deputy that was following us, but something kept me going. I feel like by the end I was in more pain than her, but the feeling of accomplishment was more than I can describe in words.”
Race director Amy Albrect had the joy of seeing the two cross the finish line together and immediately decided that Ybarra deserved his own medal.
“Watching the two of them cross together had everyone in tears,” Albrecht said. “It was so moving, and one of the neatest things I have ever seen. I don’t know his past mistakes, but what he did showed his true character. We were able to find his mother’s address to send her his medal, because he deserves it for what he did that day.”