The month of April is a bit of a gateway for those of us here in Oklahoma. The Arts Festival takes place in downtown Oklahoma City, which somehow guarantees much-needed rain showers every year (the state fair somehow has the same mysterious climatological effect in September), severe weather season kicks into gear, gluing residents to their news station of choice on many evenings, and if you're a teacher like myself...state testing takes place as the school year barrels it's way to a hectic close.
But....as we roll into April each year, most folks remember one date; April 19th, the infamous day in 1995 when a Ryder truck packed with explosives was parked in downtown OKC, left to sit for a short time, then violently exploded....decimating the Murrah Federal Building and tragically ending the lives of 168 innocent people....because some crybaby whack-job was upset and needed to make a statement.
We have a statement for you sir....it is two giant collective middle-fingers.
Since 2001, the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon has been held annually at the end of April, drawing thousands of runners, volunteers, and spectators. It's an event not to be missed. I was fortunate again this year to have the physical ability to run, and don't take that lightly. It was another half-marathon on the menu for me (I ran the full in 2014...after a strep diagnosis...and perhaps will again one day....hopefully with a clean bill of health).
Like all good runs, rides, and road-trips....the day started eeeaarrrlly.
After securing a parking space downtown for the Tacoma, I headed over to my church where the doors are open for runners to gather themselves and prepare for the race. St. Paul's has been a staple for me since moving to OKC in 2006. I'm thankful for our clergy and congregation. The church took heavy damage in 1995, as we are located only a couple of blocks north of the bombing site, now the location of the memorial.
Pre-race visit. The starting line is just to the west of the memorial.
Lining up in corral B just before the race. The race starts out going south. The official start line is where the bright light can be seen.
Looking back north at the start. The entire event draws roughly 24,000 runners. That's a lot of snot-rockets.
My buddy Daniel was also assigned to corral B. He's a speedy dude and we had talked before about meeting up a the start. I was looking down at my phone to send him a message when I felt a thump on my shoulder. We were standing side-by-side before either of us realized it! The guys in the background were excited to be a part of the photo.
Headed north towards the state capitol. Yes, we have an oil derrick directly in front of our capitol building...I won't get into that. But....it does make for a fun shot! I don't have many photos from the run itself....because I was busy....running.
Headed up Gorilla Hill. The street here is lined with gorilla-themed 'stuff'....folks dressed up....and LOTS of bananas! The street just past the crowd always looks like a banana truck turned over. I definitely had a banana....which sat nicely on top of the beer I had about mile 5! (Thanks John, Red Earth Brewers, and MENT Apparel!)
Kicking through the finish. I set a PR (personal record) for my half-marathon time (1:38:56), scraping four minutes off of last year's time, so I was a happy boy! I also felt like I had been beaten on with a broom handle.
The festive finish line! The vibes here...are good.
My buddy Jacob also ran the half and DESTROYED it. His time was stupid-fast. Dude....congrats!
Also got to catch up with my friend Jen at the finish! This girl runs....and runs, and runs. I was surprised she was standing still long enough to take a photo! Bonus...she's a fellow teacher (as is Jacob.....as is Daniel!) We must all need to be runners in case we have to flee the kiddos! Ha!
Another homie! Hunter (grey shirt) was coming into the finish on his first full marathon! Kudos my friend....hope you got some ice afterwards! Ouch! (He did excellent and....surprise....is also a teacher)
Now over to the kids marathon finish line! My dude Chandler completed his kids marathon downtown. The kids run 25 miles on their own throughout the spring, then complete the final 1.2 downtown. His time has improved all spring and he's really enjoying running. Congrats my friend...I'm impressed!
My sweet friend Kendra (and Chandler's proud momma!) has also taken to running and is digging it! She and her husband Adam have been SUPER supportive of Chandler's running habit! Kendra came through the kids marathon with Chandler and has been helping him log miles while picking up running herself. Way to go!!
How about we put some sunglasses on that kiddo!
This girl was dressed like a pineapple. I don't know her, but if she's cool enough for a pineapple suit, then I think she's a winner! (Thanks for the photo and the laughs!)
Post-run yee-haws were held at Twisted Spike Brewing which is just a block or so off the finish. How convenient! They also hooked up the finishers with a free pint glass.
The Taco Nation bus was also out front serving up the yums. I was a good boy and only ate one, instead of seven....like I wanted.
The weather was choice, the race was energetic, the friends were plentiful, the beer flowed, and the vibes....were good. Offering much love and respect to those lost, their family and friends, and those who risked it all during the rescue. We always run to remember.