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Marathoner limping in pain gets help from prisoner on work release to finish race

[Oct. 15, 2020: Tim Fitzsimons]

A Utah marathoner who began limping from pain early on in a recent race was able to finish with the help of a prisoner on work release.

In a Facebook post to a group for runners, Carrie Kelley said she had run just the first few miles of the Beaver Creek Marathon south of Salt Lake City on Oct. 3 when various injuries caught up to her, leaving her limping in pain.

"Then about mile 4, I heard talking and someone running behind me. Who could be slower than me? It turned out to be a prisoner out on work release," Kelley wrote in Run4fun, a private Facebook group.

"The lovely Fidel saw that I needed help and came to run by my side for the remainder of the race," she wrote, referring to Fidel Ybarra, who was among prisoners on work release helping with operations for the marathon.

Ybarra accompanied Kelley for the last 22 miles of the 26.2-mile race.


"During this 22 miles, we talked, encouraged each other through the hot sun & crazy, steep canyon & joked with the sheriffs," Kelley wrote. "Without his help, I wouldn't have been able to finish."

NBC News reached out to Kelley on Thursday but did not receive an immediate response.

A statement from Ybarra was shared by the Utah Department of Corrections with NBC affiliate KSL in Salt Lake City.

"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," Ybarra wrote. "We are normally left at the back and left to our own devices."

Carrie Kelley with Fidel Ybarra after finishing the Beaver Canyon Marathon on Oct. 3, 2020.

"I could tell how much she enjoyed running, and I felt like I could not let her finish the marathon alone," he wrote. "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."


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Kelley commented on Ybarra's ability to finish the demanding race with little apparent preparation: "I am so impressed with this good man and his willingness to go out of his way to help me."

Others who saw the event said they cheered on the pair of runners.

In a Facebook post, Elizabeth Lizz Ashby, who described herself as a friend of Kelley's, said she was "blessed" to witness the day's events while volunteering at the marathon.

"When the last runner reached us, I was inspired. The last runner was my friend. And I knew what she was going through. I embraced her and cheered for her. And was surprised to learn that one of the inmates working as cleanup was running with her, just because he didn’t want her to run alone. He was in work boots and not a trained runner. I wasn’t sure how long he would make it, but I cheered him on and celebrated with him all he had done so far."

Beaver Creek Marathon director Amy Albrecht told KSL that at the race's finish line, "Watching the two of them cross together had everyone in tears."

This Brighter Side of News post courtesy of NBC News.


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