26 things to see, love the 2022 race weekend
It’s time for the marathon week.
It’s been three springs since we couldn’t say that about the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. The pandemic has forced the race to go virtual in 2020so postponed to fall 2021. The last time the Memorial Marathon was normal was 2019.
Now, he’s not only returned to his traditional April weekend, but to all of the in-person races as well.
How awesome is that?
Can you tell we’re excited?
To pay homage to the 26.2-mile marquee event, here are 26 things to get you ready for the Memorial Marathon, too.
1. The Memorial Marathon is held in honor of those killed, injured and forever changed by the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995. Many runners will wear “In Honor Of” bibs with the name of someone killed or injured in the attack.
2. This is the 22nd year of the Memorial Marathon. Races include a marathon, marathon relay, half marathon, 5k and a kids marathon.
3. Last year’s Memorial Marathon was not only moved to October due to the pandemic, but also held races over two days due to COVID concerns. Organizers hoped to limit runners’ exposure by running the children’s 5k and marathon on Saturday, then the marathon, half-marathon and marathon relay on Sunday. The format has been such a hit with runners that the organizers have chosen to keep the change this year. It gave marathoners and half-marathoners the opportunity to run the 5k or do the kids marathon with their children.
4. Another memory from last year: COVID protocols. Participants 12 and older must provide proof of vaccination or a negative test, and while these were standards used by the Memorial Marathon last year, similar protocols are adopted by just about every major marathons in the United States.
5. Before the pandemic, the only time the Memorial Marathon was not held in April was in 2011. The event was moved to the first weekend in May because Easter fell on the last Sunday in April that that year.
6. When the Memorial Marathon was held virtually in 2020 because of the pandemic, nearly 14,000 runners completed a race.
7. When the Memorial Marathon was held in October 2021 because of (you guessed it) the pandemic, officials capped the number of participants at 12,000 for better distance runners on the course.
8. The last time the Memorial Marathon was held in person in 2019, nearly 24,000 runners participated. Organizers hope this year’s race can once again approach the 20,000 runners mark.
9. All money raised through registrations, sponsorships, and other race-related income goes to the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. He is the sole beneficiary of the marathon, which is the memorial’s biggest fundraiser. In 2014, the marathon exceeded $1 million in annual revenue.
ten. Among the traditions during race weekend is the shoe blessing at First Church, 131 NW 4th, directly across from the memorial. Service begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. Now it is officially known as the Blessing of Shoes and Gloves, also recognizing wheelchair racers.
11. Another tradition on race day: the (pre)sunrise service at the Survivor Tree. It starts early Sunday – 5:30am – but those moments under the mighty American elm will warm your heart.
12. A new tradition on race day: a mass (before) sunrise at Old St. Joseph’s Cathedral, 307 NW 4th. Another neighbor of the memorial, the parish will celebrate mass for the runners at 5 a.m., immediately followed by a candlelight vigil in front of the statue “And Jesus wept”. Look for Father Brian Buettner, who will lead the mass and then run the half marathon.
13. Best race weekend tradition: 168 seconds of silence. Before the start of the marathon, then again before the start of the half-marathon, everything will stop to honor the 168 men, women and children who died in the bombings. It will make you cry.
14. Best post-race tradition: Many runners come to the memorial after the race and leave medals, bibs and more on the chairs representing the 168 men, women and children who died in the attack. There is laughter. There is sadness. But above all, there is hope.
15. Runner’s World magazine named the Memorial Marathon one of its 12 must-do races around the world in 2005.
16. The Memorial Marathon route will pass through 25 neighborhoods, including two on the northeast side of the city, Lincoln Terrace and Medical Community. These were added to the route last year and ensured that every quadrant of Oklahoma City was included on the course.
17. The Riders have a love-hate relationship with Gorilla Hill. It’s an up and down stretch on Shartel Avenue between NW 36th and NW 50th, so it can be difficult to cross. But the Crown Heights neighborhood has turned the area into a party zone. There’s a huge inflatable gorilla, a troop dressed up as bananas, and people handing out mimosas. This is very fun.
18. Gorilla Hill reminds us of bananas, so here’s a fun fact: the last time the Memorial Marathon was held before COVID, runners consumed 20,000 bananas. They also downed 51,000 bottles of Dasani water, 17,000 bottles of Powerade and 600 pounds of pretzels. (Pretzels, by the way, help runners reclaim lost salt from their bodies when they sweat.)
19. Another party zone? The finish line. Scissortail Park is where runners will finish for only the second time, and race organizers promise food and fun for all.
20. Speaking of the finish line, the Memorial Marathon had one of the finest finishes of any marathon of all time in 2016. Catherine Lisle won the women’s division by a tenth of a second over Danielle Hodge. It was a photo-finish, something almost completely unheard of in a marathon.
21. Two other excellent finishes came courtesy of the course record holders. Conor Holt, then living in Norman, set the men’s course record in 2004 with a time of 2:22:54. Bixby’s Stephanie Andre holds the women’s course record after winning the 2019 race in 2:45:07.
22. More than 3,000 volunteers participate in the Memorial Marathon. Twelve volunteered each year for the race.
23. Thirty-four runners have participated in each Memorial Marathon. They are called the Ran Them All Club.
24. Rain is forecast for race weekend, but here’s a friendly reminder: rainfall alone won’t cancel any event. According to marathon officials, a race will only be delayed or canceled if weather conditions pose an imminent danger to participants.
25. In 2014, the Memorial Marathon was delayed nearly two hours by major thunderstorms.
26. No matter the conditions, running can be tough. One of the things the Memorial Marathon has become known for is the support on the course. This is the reflection of the race organizers, but it also comes from the spectators. If you are on the course, be sure to cheer on the runners. All. They hear it. They need it. And even if they blow too much to say it, they appreciate it.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 405-475-4125 or [email protected] Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok, and support her work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.
OKC Memorial Marathon
When: 5K, 7:30 a.m. Saturday; children’s marathon, Saturday 9 a.m.; marathon and relay marathon, 6:30 a.m. Sunday; half marathon, 7:30 a.m. Sunday
Or: Downtown Oklahoma City
Weather: Showers possible, high near 84 Saturday. Possible showers in the morning, high near 79 on Sunday.
More information: OKCMarathon.com