This past weekend I volunteered for the 17th consecutive year with the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. It all started with a spur-of-the-moment decision on race day for the inaugural marathon in 2001 to head downtown and see what I could do. Three years later I was in charge of hundreds of “course marshals” and since I moved to Arizona, I’ve gone back every year to help out with the Relay Information Booth (which I created) and by driving the lead vehicle, and then a “sag wagon,” on race day.
This year we had a new sponsor for the lead vehicle, so it wasn’t “skinned” with a graphic wrap like it has been in years past.
Besides HAM radio operator Tom Webb, a friend from my Air Force days, to keep us in touch with Race Control while we were out on the course, and Jon Hulsey, the Course Coordinator, we had Jordan Wood, the Marathon’s new Race Director along for the ride so she could see the course for herself. Being Race Director is a lot of responsibility for a young woman, and I could tell she was feeling it, but despite the cold, windy, and occasionally rainy weather, it appears the race went well.
Later in the day Tom and I were the crew for one of four “sag wagons” that were out on course to pick up runners who couldn’t continue due minor injuries, the cold, or just running out of fun, and bring them down to the medical tent at the finish line to make sure they were going to be all right. We were busier than we’ve been the last few years, but that’s not really a surprise given the weather. Among our pick-ups were one of the wheelchair athletes and a couple of firefighters in full turn-out gear.
There were over 25,700 participants this year (a new record), including over a dozen wheelchair athletes and at least one blind runner, spread among the five events: full marathon, half marathon, 5-person relay, 5K fun run/walk, and Kid’s Marathon.
Local TV station KFOR provided live coverage and has posted a photo gallery on their web site.
Two nights before, a major wind storm rolled through the area and did a lot of damage along some parts of the course. Near the State Capitol, the wind ripped the metal roof off of the AFL-CIO building. It landed in trees 100 feet or so away. KFOR did a report on that and other damage.
Each year, The #RuntoRemember honors the 168 men, women, and children who were killed in the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Murrah Federal Building, one of whom was my friend Pete DeMaster. Hundreds more were injured, and thousands more were “changed forever” by that event. Oklahoma City and its citizens were changed forever too, discovering a strength and reslience they never knew they had. It’s an honor to play a small part in this event.