Just before last year's Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, race organizers setting up fencing along the route on Broadway encountered a new business owner.
It was his first year to be open during the event, which is attended by 22,000 people from around the world. He had no idea.
“He said, ‘What are you doing? You're closing off my business,'” said Stacey Weddington, sponsorship chairman for the race and director of development of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.
As the race winds its way through 26.2 miles of Oklahoma City, Nichols Hills and The Village, road closures and fencing set up to mark the route and protect runners also inadvertently restrict access to businesses. It's a potential headache for business owners, especially if they are open. Most races begin at 6:30 a.m. and last several hours.
A new effort by race organizers asks business owners to “Embrace Our Race” by finding creative ways to get involved in the marathon, which has a huge economic impact on the city.
“Some are easy,” Weddington said. “If they have a patio, turn the music up and hang a banner. Host a watch part and let runners use your restrooms.”
Employees of Whole Foods Market at Western Avenue and Classen Boulevard plan to help staff a water station across the street. The grocer also donated several pallets of apples and bananas to be distributed at the finish line.
Spokeswoman Sarah Innerarity said the workers are excited for the opportunity to get involved for the first time this year. A banner welcoming the runners is expected to go up outside the store later this week.
“We're all new to Oklahoma City and the store has been here six months, so we're excited to support this great race,” she said.
Western Avenue will be closed during the race, blocking one of the store's entrances, but it should reopen shortly after the store does at 8 a.m.
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