Can't Stop, Won't Stop

Mario Ocampo 53, completed the 40th Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon. It was a poignant triumph for Mario, who spent 18 years of his life behind bars. Here's the incredible backstory:

While Mario was incarcerated at the California Institute for Men in Chino, his sister helped him buy a 7" TV. He could only receive a few stations, one of which was pirated. It was on the bootlegged channel that Mario watched a series on Ironman races and said to himself "One day, I'm gonna do that!" He was in his 40s at the time and had already started to run in the prison yard. A fellow inmate told him about the Midnight Mission as well as another organization that helped Mission participants, the Skid Row Running Club. Mario arranged to be released to the Mission, and was invited to join the running club. He loved the community aspect of the club, as well as the fitness, and he completed several marathons, including one in the Amazon jungle in 2019.

Mario still had that Ironman race in his sights, so in 2020 he registered for the Oceanside 70.3. He began to swim Wednesday and Friday mornings at Tower 26, biking there from Downtown L.A. The 70.3 was cancelled due to the pandemic, but Mario would not be stopped. With the help of his Skid Row Running Club friends Mario organized his own 70.3 in Long Beach which he completed on August 16, 2020.

Fate stepped in when Brennan Lindner saw Mario on the beach wearing a Skid Row Running Club mask. Brennan offered his support, which culminated in Mario receiving the bib for the Alcatraz Tri. It is through the generosity and kindness of many people, including Paul Hekimian, that Mario was able to complete the Tri with a time of 4:24:36. His next event is the 54 mile L.A. River Run in September, followed by the Herbalife Tri in October!

If you'd like to support Mario and other runners in recovery, please consider a donation to the Skid Row Running Club HERE

By Tracy A. Hunt