22 years ago, I was flipping through channels at home and stopped when I saw news coverage of a bomb in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I was 16-years-old and this was my first experience with terrorism. A helicopter was hovering over the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building that was decimated by the explosion taking the lives of 168 innocent men, women and children
Over the past few years, I read, listened and spoke with runners who participated in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon and knew this would be one of the #10for10 races in 2017: 10 different marathons in 10 different states for R4P.
The marathon and weekend is a tribute to those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. It also supports the privately owned and operated Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. Since its inception in 2001, this race has continuously grown and attracted runners from all over the world. In 2017, 25,731 participants from all 50 states and 13 countries, came together and finished the largest Memorial Marathon ever!
I rarely mention expos in my blogs, but this one stood out for these reasons:
- Virtual race table – highlights the entire 26.2, 13.1 and 5K routes (featured in the above video), which I have never seen before at any expo.
- Victims tribute wall – shares the names of all 168 people who lost their lives during the bombing. Runners have the option of adding a race bib to honor a person of their choosing.
- Why I Run the Memorial Marathon – provides an opportunity for people to type in the reason why they are participating in this year’s race. These messages are added to a rotating PowerPoint in real time and are seen throughout the expo.
- The Vibe – from vendors, to the staff and the social media team, people embrace the runners and the supporters like their own. The atmosphere inside this expo was uplifting and heartwarming.
The race starts at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum with 168 seconds of silence and is a powerful few minutes before the race begins. The weather reports were on target as temperatures hovered in the mid 30s and eventually made its way to the low 40s. The overcast day was extremely windy with intermittent rain showers, which always makes a race for more fun and challenging (to me at least), but not always for others looking to PR (personal record).
The course was challenging as I made my way through different areas in Oklahoma City such as Bricktown (downtown), alongside the state capital and up Gorilla Hill.
Strangely enough, I felt my times getting faster after each mile. This never happens because a) I don’t train and b) My body tends to get tired the longer I run. But today, I fed off the crowd’s energy and despite the harsh weather conditions, I probably heard over 5,000 “thank you for running” comments over the 13.1 mile race.
As I crossed the finish line, I received my medal and partook in a race tradition by eating a Carl’s Jr. hamburger (something I hope will spread to other finish lines around the world) which totally hit the spot!
At the memorial tree, I noticed some runners leaving their race bibs and medals on the memorial chairs (each chair represents the life of every person lost on April 19, 1995). This race is truly a reflection of the character of the people in OKC, the history of their trials and difficulties, and the way they have persevered and prospered.
And I am thankful for the opportunity to have run in and with this community. OKC you have my heart.