The Boston Marathon bombing continues to reverberate. Beyond the East Coast, nowhere are the shock waves felt more than Oklahoma City.
In a city that endured its own heinous act of terrorism, Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum officials spent Tuesday still grappling with what to do about the Memorial Marathon on April 28. Should everything remain the same? Should changes be made? Should it be run at all? Those remain questions without answers.
But on a day that the world started to come to grips with what happened Monday near the finish line in Boston, we reached out to runners who plan to participate in the Memorial Marathon. We wanted to know how they felt about running Oklahoma City after what happened in Boston.
Of the runners who we talked with, their emotions were varied, but their plans were resolute. They want to run the Memorial Marathon.
Alex Stone, Norman
Alex Stone, 31, plans to run the half-marathon while his wife, Adrienne, plans to run the marathon. Married just last week, the couple have devised an emergency plan for race day in light of what happened in Boston.
Our emergency plan is fairly simple but should be effective.
We will use email, as data typically seems to be the last cellular service affected in a crisis. We will register with Red Cross to let each other and our families know we are OK. We have also agreed on an out-of-state relative to act as a coordinator, since out-of-state calls seem to have better reliability in a crisis than in-state calling. We have agreed on primary and secondary personal meeting points within walking distance but far enough away to not pose a danger.
We have also discussed worst-case scenarios, what kind of medical treatment we would like should something happen to either of us. Kind of morbid, but still good to know the other's wishes.
There is a little fear, mostly due to related events and time frame, but we are not going to let that fear sway us but instead drive a better personal plan of action in case of the worst.
We are both in agreement that (what happened in Boston) does make us nervous, but it also makes us determined. While it does place a seed of doubt, running will also show our determination and show that we won't let events like Boston hamper our spirit. We celebrate and honor those in Boston by continuing the running tradition.
I find the name of our marathon especially fitting, that a race born out of honoring those affected by one terrorist event, will now be honoring those of another.
Bill Phillips, Rose Hill, Kan.
The 55-year-old plans to run his first marathon in Oklahoma City. He started running distances a few years ago after more than three decades away from running.
My feelings about running OKC have not wavered. If anything they have intensified. I've never been affected by such a horrific event, so my resolve is based on my confidence in those who are there to protect us. I will thank as many of them as I can during the race, and hopefully by running and finishing the race.
I trust that the people overseeing the race will do what's right and that if they feel it will be safe to run, then it will be safe.
My advice to others would be to trust your own feelings and instincts and do what makes you feel comfortable.
Eric Epperson, Joplin, Mo.
Oklahoma City was where the Eric Epperson, 31, ran his first marathon three years ago. The native Oklahoman plans to run the half-marathon this year.
This will change the way I approach (the Memorial Marathon). And why wouldn't it? 9/11 changed the way we fly, and Boston will change the way we run.
I trust in the authorities' abilities. I'll be ready to hand out as many high fives along the route as possible.
I've always viewed running as an act of stewardship. As long as I have legs and lungs that work, I owe it to God, others and myself to run. We owe it to the running community as a whole to run our best race. Not because it will change what happened but because it'll signal that we endure.
I'll run with a heavy heart and fast legs.
Ron Bradshaw, Dallas
The Memorial Marathon will be the 55-year-old's 10th marathon. Oklahoma City is where he ran his first, just last year.
What happened in Boston will not change me as far as my willingness to do large events in large cities. But I think since this did happen, I will be constantly on the alert and will always be thinking about what could happen.
There may be a slight fear from now on but not enough to make me stop.
I am sure OKC is taking the best precautions, and there should be nothing to worry about.
Ebony Combs, Mansfield, Texas
The 30-year-old is an Oklahoma native. She plans to run the 5K in Oklahoma City. It will be her first 5K.
The Boston tragedy has made me somewhat nervous. I know I'll say many prayers during my journey, asking God for protection and peace for all.
I know we will be OK, but the senseless tragedy couldn't have come at a worse time. I'm certain it will be on the minds of all involved.
Desi Stoops, Bixby
The 41-year-old and his wife, Georgie, are both going to run the Boston Marathon next year. But before then, Desi will run the marathon in Oklahoma City. It will be his second.
Initially, I was a bit concerned (about running Oklahoma City after what happened in Boston), but after a few hours, I knew that was the wrong response to have. I now want to run OKC even more to prove that we can't change our daily activities based on fear.
I have fear of 26.2 miles, but not about security.
I would tell those who are scared that it's normal to have those feelings. But if you really think about it, there is a greater chance of twisting an ankle, bonking at mile 20 or cramping up at mile 24 than being concerned with security.
Justin Daniels, Norman
The married father of one is the assistant fire marshal at OU. He has run the marathon in Oklahoma City twice and plans to run the half-marathon this year.
I discovered in the summer of 2010 that I had high blood pressure, and my cholesterol was out of control. Not good for someone that just turned 30. Later that year when my son was born, I decided that I needed to get in better shape and be a good example for him. So I signed up for the marathon, and I've been involved ever since.
What kind of example would I be for my son now if I quit because of (Monday's) events?
I want to show him that no matter how bad things may seem, you should always keep fighting. He's only 2½, but I believe at some point he will understand the message of hope and resolve that will be sent next Sunday when we all run despite the adversity.
I will definitely be thinking about (what happened in Boston) when I'm at the starting line and probably at certain moments throughout the race. But in my line of work, I've been trained to understand these things can happen and we must be prepared.
I also know that by not running, I let these people win. Whoever it turns out to be that is responsible for this act, their purpose is to scare us all into conforming to their sick ideology. We have to overcome our fears, and if I have to be the first one to put my toe on the starting line, then I'll do it.