Valhalla Track Team Runs Miracle Mile in Honor of Late Coach

Students said they are shocked and devastated by the loss

Students and staff at Valhalla High School in El Cajon paid tribute to their beloved track coach Saturday by running a "miracle mile" in his honor.

Carter Yarborough, 48, coached track and cross country at the school for more than 15 years.

He died Sunday morning when his motorcycle collided with a deputy patrol vehicle on South Coach Highway in Encinitas.

The deputy driving the patrol car was not injured. He immediately administered CPR on Yarborough after the crash but was unable to save his life.

After paying tribute to their late coach with their feet, his team did it once more with their hands and hearts. Yarborough's runners handwrote several letters to him, explaining just how fast he made them feel.

Yarborough's family was on hand to witness the heartfelt tribute.

"This helps but sometimes this makes me a little sad because Carter was well-liked," Yarborough's mother Wanda Yarborough-Puckett said. "This kind of makes me sad because it's hard for me to share all the happiness that he's done for everybody else."

Some of his team also gathered Wednesday on campus in their orange cross country jerseys to pay their respects.

“He really comforted us and made us excited to be out here," said Ariana Martinez, 17, who was looking forward to seeing Yarborough over the summer for training. She added she is shocked he won’t be there mentoring her for her senior year of high school.  

Yarborough, affectionately called ‘Coach Carter’ by students, coached at Valhalla High School in El Cajon for more than 15 years.

"He really treated us like a father for everyone," said Martinez. 

“It still doesn’t seem real," added Martinez. "I feel like all of us are going to show up the first day of practice and he’ll just be there. And knowing he’s not is just really hard.” 

The teammates plan to hold a run in Coach Carter’s honor on Friday called the 'Memorial Mile.' It will take place at 6:30 p.m. on the school track. Anyone in the community is welcome to attend. 

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