I ran the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon for the 16th time today (4:42:19). It also happened to be the 16th Annual OCMM, so I am one of the people who have “Run Them All.”
Maverick pointed out that 16 marathons is 419 miles. 4-19. That is cool and spooky at the same time.
I ran with other Piranas (our running club) Weeble and Maverick. We always position ourselves ON the starting line, and therefore find our way into many starting photos…
Why run the same event 16 years in a row?
In 2000, the Oklahoma City National Memorial was preparing to open to the public, 5 years after the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building. Chet Collier and I were training to run the Cincinnati “Flying Pig” Marathon in May, so our longest training runs coincided with lots of media relating to the Bombing and the Memorial. I had only started running a couple years before, around the time our third child was born, but I quickly started competing in local races and running farther and with Chet as a running partner, set my sights on a marathon.
Ironically, I should have run my first marathon in Dallas the previous December with my brother who was also running his first marathon. I talked him into running a marathon with me, provided all the training plans, and then over trained and got injured (ITB Syndrome) and could only run about 3 miles before the pain stopped me. David went ahead and ran Dallas alone (although I did come down to see him on the course) and for years he relished telling the story of how I coerced him into running a marathon together and then didn’t run with him.
So, healed and recovered we had started training again for a Spring marathon and Cincinnati was the target. It occurred to me that it was somewhat of a tragedy that people from Oklahoma had to go somewhere else to run a major marathon. On a long run one Saturday morning I had ranted for some time about this issue of having to leave the state to run. I had listed many reasons Oklahoma City should have a marathon and I even knew what it would look like to put one on. Chet, well aware of my OCD and tendency to fixate on goals, realized he was going to get sucked into this thing, so he set the bar high when he said, “I’ll help you put on a marathon, but it has to be for the Memorial.”
To this day I know we were given a vision that morning. Before the run was over we knew exactly how the race would look and feel. The fact that I had never run a marathon (Chet had run several), and barely even seen one happening, didn’t phase us. This had to happen. Long story short, Chet and I presented the idea to the Memorial Board (in the five years since the bombing they had allowed nothing to be attached to the Memorial) with the promise that it would be first class and honoring to those who died, those who survived and those changed forever. They agreed and the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon was born.
Over the years thousands of people have put their blood, sweat and tears into this race. It isn’t about us, it is about those who can’t run, those who are no longer with us. Every year I get texts and emails from people thanking me for starting this. I tell them what I did is no more or less important than what they are doing as they Run to Remember.
I had a caveat of my own. I would work to put on the marathon, but I also wanted to run it. So from year 1 till today I have run all 16 Oklahoma City Memorial Marathons. A few years ago the Memorial took over the Marathon completely and today I have the pleasure of getting up Sunday morning and just being a runner (after years of being on my feet for weeks before.) Still, I will always be connected to this race in a very special way.