Greenfield inmate runs Boston Marathon from inside

Incarcerated man runs his own Boston Marathon

  • Keith Giroux, an inmate at the Franklin County Jail and House of Corrections, ran the Boston Marathon on a small treadmill in the back corner of a dining hall. RECORDER STAFF/ANDY CASTILLO

  • On April 18, Keith Giroux pulled on a gray prison sweatshirt and matching pants, secured his standard issue New Balance Velcro medical shoes and started running. RECORDER STAFF/ANDY CASTILLO

  • Keith Giroux was born in Greenfield and had his first run-in with police when he was 11 — since then, he’s been in and out of jail. RECORDER STAFF/ANDY CASTILLO

  • Keith Giroux, an inmate at the Franklin County Jail and House of Corrections, ran the Boston Marathon on a small treadmill in the back corner of a dining hall. RECORDER STAFF/ANDY CASTILLO

  • Keith Giroux, an inmate at the Franklin County House of Corrections, ran along with the Boston Marathon on a small treadmill in the back corner of a dining hall. RECORDER STAFF/ANDY CASTILLO

  • Keith Giroux, an inmate at the Franklin County Jail and House of Corrections, ran the Boston Marathon on a small treadmill in the back corner of a dining hall. RECORDER STAFF/ANDY CASTILLO

  • Giroux

  • Keith Giroux, an inmate at the Franklin County Jail and House of Corrections, ran the Boston Marathon on a small treadmill in the back corner of a dining hall. RECORDER STAFF/ANDY CASTILLO

  • Keith Giroux, an inmate at the Franklin County Jail and House of Corrections, ran the Boston Marathon on a small treadmill in the back corner of a dining hall. RECORDER STAFF/ANDY CASTILLO

Recorder Staff
Published: 5/17/2016 11:12:07 PM

GREENFIELD — Inside the Franklin County House of Corrections, tucked away in the far corner of the dining hall, there’s a small treadmill facing a blank white concrete wall.

It was here, away from the screaming crowds and festive atmosphere of Copley Square on race day, that Keith Giroux ran his version of the Boston Marathon in 4 hours, 14 minutes.

“The first feeling was just this awesome sense of accomplishment,” Giroux said. “There was so much working against me.”

He’s sitting inside of a small interview room, a cup of tea on the table in front of him, surrounded by looseleaf poems that he wrote. He’s also a convict and, most recently, a runner.

He takes another sip and says, “I know I’ve never done anything like this, or anything on this level. I’ve never done anything great, or good that I can look back on and smile about. When you do great things, you’ve got good stories to tell. I feel like I’ve been sitting still for so long now. But now I feel like I’m getting somewhere in life through these short strides.”

Giroux is a 29-year-old inmate at the jail. He’s short and skinny, with close-cropped hair and piercing brown eyes. The harsh fluorescent light casts heavy shadows over his face.

He was born in Greenfield and had his first run-in with police when he was 11 — since then, he’s been in and out of jail.

His police record includes sexual battery, driving under the influence and assault with a dangerous weapon. In 2008, Giroux broke into his ex-spouse’s home and threatened her with a knife. His 4-year-old son was also in the house.

Giroux served a 18-month prison sentence. He moved to Tennessee and broke parole by not registering as a sex offender. He was sentenced to another two years. During that sentence, he was released from prison early by mistake. After he was freed, Giroux removed a court-ordered GPS tracking bracelet he was required to wear and tried to escape; but he didn’t get far — police found him and a judge sent him went to jail for another three years.

“It’s very demeaning, inhumane, lonely,” Giroux says about jail as he takes a pause and stares into space: “Kind of stagnant.”

Running is his escape from the past and the present. He’s running toward a brighter future. “Takes you outta here,” he says, “Puts you somewhere much happier and more at peace.”

Giroux didn’t always enjoy running so much. In fact, it wasn’t until the summer of 2015, just after he was transferred from Tennessee to Greenfield that he discovered his passion. Before that, Giroux didn’t like running at all.

“When we were forced to run in gym, I hated it,” he says, “I’ve been a smoker since middle school.”

The Franklin County jail has a no-smoking policy; Giroux had to quit when he was transferred, which is one reason why he started running.

At first, he would run a mile or so to pass the time and stay in shape. Soon, however, Giroux began running for more than just physical health.

“A couple (miles) would turn into four, and then I’d run a few more,” Giroux says, leaning back in his chair and setting down his tea; “Before you know it, I had run 10 miles when I was only expecting to run two or three.”

Giroux was inspired to run a marathon by a clinician who works at the jail and plans to run the New York Marathon in November.

At first, he was going to show his support by running his own marathon from prison during the New York Marathon in November, but then he realized he would be out of jail by then.

Instead, he looked for other races — and decided to run his marathon during the Boston Marathon, which was only 10 days away at the time.

“It was a last-minute thing,” he says: “There was no specific regimen. I didn’t train as I should have, like everybody does. I was getting to the point where I loved running. Every time I finished I just felt this crazy satisfaction.”

On April 18, Giroux pulled on a gray prison sweatshirt and matching pants, secured his standard issue New Balance Velcro medical shoes and started running.

Throughout his run, fellow prisoners stopped by and offered words of encouragement and humorous jests.

From the start, he was faced with an uphill battle: two weeks before the race, Giroux hyperextended his left knee while working in the kitchen and his right knee was already in pain from an old injury.

His attire didn’t help him either. Take his Velcro shoes, they aren’t the best for marathons. But inmates are required to wear them in jail. They aren’t allowed any footwear with laces on them.

“I already had huge blisters,” he says. “I was trying to focus on what I was doing. I had to break the run up into increments, so there were different segments. While I was in one segment, I focused on finishing that segment.”

At mile 26.2, he was met with cheers from inmates and guards alike.

In a way, Giroux ran for everyone in the jail.

Today, Giroux runs for his son, whom he hasn’t seen since he was transferred to Franklin County.

“Hopefully, it makes him feel good,” Giroux says, a soft expression in his eyes, “to see his dad doing good things.”

He said that he probably won’t attempt any more marathons while in jail, but isn’t opposed to it if he has a good cause to run for. After he’s released, however, Giroux intends to run marathons as a free man.

In his cell, later, Giroux picks up a picture of his son: “I just want to do good things.” He pauses, looks out the small window in the back of the room and adds: “Great things.”




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