Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon leaves impact on runners

What started as an idea hatched during an early-morning run only a decade ago has become one of the county's premier marathons.
By Jenni Carlson Published: August 22, 2010
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What started as an idea hatched during an early-morning run only a decade ago has become one of the county's premier marathons.

The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon celebrated its 10th anniversary last spring, attracting 22,000 participants and raising $750,000 for the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum.


The numbers in its inaugural year?

Participants: 3,500.

Money raised: $50,000.

"If anything, I'm surprised by how far we've come this fast," Memorial Marathon President Thomas Hill said earlier this summer. "We believe we were given a vision, and I always believed this event could be world-class."

First, a bit about that vision.

In the spring of 2000, Hill and longtime running buddy Chet Collier were on a long training run for an out-of-town marathon. They had lots of time on their hands as they pounded out the miles, so they chatted about everything. Work. Family. Weather. The opening of the Oklahoma City National Memorial.

The memorial had spurred talk around Oklahoma City about the city's future and its hopes to become a top-tier city. As the two businessmen talked about that, Hill became agitated about the fact their hometown didn't have a marathon, forcing runners like them to head out of state.

Oklahoma City, Hill lamented, needed a marathon.

His words stopped Collier in his tracks.

"If there is one," Collier said, "it should be for the memorial."

By the time the men finished their training run, they had most of the logistics planned. The starting line at the memorial. The 168 seconds of silence before the race, one second for every victim of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The banners with the names of those who died in the bombing that would line the course.

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