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Out of the Blue

One Lap Down, 109 to Go

Inmates at the Utah State Prison run on a dirt track in the prison yard.
Photo by Bradley Slade

Isaac E. Wood (BA ’13) watches his team of inmates run on a 375-meter track “that’s uphill one way and not so downhill the other way.” Taunters stand beyond the fence, cursing and yelling, “Run, Forrest, run!”

Wood, director of operations for BYU track and field and cross country, began coaching inmates at the Utah State Prison three years ago, preparing them each year for an October marathon—a 110-lap course inside the prison walls.

“I think it gives them an identity almost,” Wood says. “The only identity [they] had previous to that—to a lot of people—was sex offender or murderer or robber or felon.”

What started as a letter from an inmate requesting a running coach for the prison has become a chance to make a positive impact. “I’m not some self-proclaimed great person,” Wood says. “I just like to treat people like the Lord would probably want [me] to treat them.”