Rick Uribe didn’t expect to perform especially well in last year’s Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.
An emergency appendectomy on Christmas Eve 2012 put Uribe behind his normal training schedule, so two weeks before the event last April, he’d already accepted that he wouldn’t log his best time in Oklahoma City.
But on Monday, April 15, 2013, while vacationing with his family on South Padre Island, Texas, Uribe learned of the Boston Marathon bombing.
“I determined then that I would make every attempt to qualify for Boston,” Uribe said. “It is the oldest continuous marathon, and we lost something that day.
“I wanted to be part of taking it back.”
Needing to finish the Oklahoma City marathon in 3:25 to qualify, Uribe crossed the finish line with eight minutes to spare. He will run the Boston Marathon on Monday, then he’ll run in Oklahoma City six days later.
The Whitehouse, Texas, native is one of 44 people to finish every Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon since the first in 2001. His initial, apathetic response to the Alfred P. Murrah Building bombing on April 19, 1995, isn’t something Uribe is proud of, but he’s channeled those feelings of shame into a very personal, solemn reminder to never take things for granted.
Uribe was managing some properties in Garrison, Texas, the morning of the Oklahoma City bombing, and a co-worker came in to tell him about the attack.
“I don’t think I even flinched,” Uribe said. “I didn’t respond, or push back in my chair and look at the TV and see what happened or anything.”
Uribe imagined the Oklahoma City attack was relatively minor like the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and went back to work without giving it a second thought.
“Mundane, routine, normal everyday stuff that bores you to tears and sucks the life out of you, and you take it for granted because the victims of the federal building bombing will never have those mundane and normal moments again,” Uribe said. “They were robbed of them.
“Later, to my dismay and chagrin and shame, I discovered just how awful and atrocious the event was. I was just very ashamed at my underreaction that individuals had lost their lives and a community had been disturbed.”
Kathleen Uribe describes her husband as a “very passionate man, but it’s a controlled passion.”
When something becomes important to him — like his four children, his country and his home state of Texas — Uribe goes all in.
That’s why she wasn’t particularly surprised when five years after the Oklahoma City bombing, Rick took up running, got hooked and resolved to run a marathon.
Rick was training in a police academy at the time, and the instructor told him he needed to be able to run a mile before graduation.
“That was the bug that bit him, and ever since then, he’s been doing marathons,” Kathleen Uribe said.
The inaugural Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon was in April 2001, and that seemed like a perfect foray into marathon running, considering his lingering shame over his reaction to the 1995 bombing.
To date, the 49-year-old Uribe has run 36 marathons, including all 13 Oklahoma City events.
He ran Boston Marathons in 2003 and 2007, but because of all the logistics involved there — travel, etc. — Uribe never did particularly well, and figured he’d never run Boston again.
“I kinda thought I’d gotten Boston out of my system, and then last year happened,” he said.
Rick never told his family about his goal to qualify for the Boston Marathon in Oklahoma City last April, but his wife figured it out pretty quickly.
“He never actually said, ‘This is what I’m gonna do,’ but once he started training, I noticed he was more intense about it,” Kathleen said. “After he ran Oklahoma City, he said, ‘I ran with the intention of qualifying for Boston.’
“I wasn’t surprised, but I was very, very proud.”
Every year after he finishes running in Oklahoma City, Uribe walks to the Memorial site and is always overcome with emotion.
“There are bad people out there and bad things happen,” he said. “It’s reminding myself of my own negligence. Running it every year is to keep me fresh.”