Running down Broadway Avenue toward the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon finish line, Cari Yerkes found herself thinking about another street.
“This is what Boylston would've felt like,” she thought.
Boylston Street, the world now knows, is where the Boston Marathon has its finish line. Two weeks ago, it was filled with cheers and music and celebration just like Oklahoma City's was Sunday.
Then a pair of bombs went off.
Yerkes was running Boston and about to make the turn onto Boylston for the final stretch of the race when the blasts occurred. She was one of the thousands of runners who were still on the course and couldn't finish the race.
Sunday, she and husband, Rick, came to Oklahoma City to finish what they started in Boston.
On a day when nearly 25,000 runners filled the streets of Oklahoma City, each of them ran for a different reason. But Cari and Rick Yerkes were among a small group of runners who ran to complete what they couldn't in Boston.
The Memorial Marathon extended an offer: any Boston runner who didn't finish because of the bombings could come run Oklahoma City for free.
Ten runners accepted the invitation.
Cari and Rick Yerkes didn't have to think long about doing it.
They had actually considered coming to Oklahoma City before Boston. They had friends who planned to run Oklahoma City as a tribute to a family member who had died, and Cari and Rick were thinking about making the trip from their Milwaukee home to offer their support.
After Boston, though, they weren't so sure.
“There's no way we're going to Oklahoma City now,” they said. “We're not going there.”
But only two days later, one of their friends showed them an article about the offer of free registration. The offer touched their hearts.
“Well,” Cari said to Rick, “do you want to do it?”
They'd never run marathons within two weeks of each other. They weren't sure how their bodies would hold up or what their times would be. But the more they talked, the less any of that seemed to matter.
“Let's do it,” they said.
Not finishing Boston had been tough on them.
Running together two weeks ago, Cari and Rick were less than a mile from the finish line in Boston when they realized something was going on.
“You could kind of tell by the police officers along the route,” Cari said. “Everything kind of changed. They became much more intense looking. Everyone was listening to their radios.”
Cari and Rick went another quarter mile or so, and suddenly, they came to a stop. All of the runners in front of them had stopped and no one could go any further. Eventually, runners and spectators started coming back toward them, saying there had been an explosion at the finish line.
Cari and Rick had run 25.9 miles but ended up walking off the course. They spent the next few hours locating friends and finding their way back to their hotel where they watched TV coverage of the finish line terror.
Reminders of that day were everywhere Sunday. Many runners wore red socks in honor of Boston. Others wore Boston garb. Red Sox caps. Celtics T-shirts.
Any time that Cari and Rick saw those tributes, they thought of Boston. Not of the bad but of the good. They thought of the resiliency that has been shown since the bombing.
Then again, that's why they came to run the Memorial Marathon.
“It's keeping the spirit alive, the American spirit,” Cari said. “Terrorists can do what they want to do. We're still going to be Americans. We're still gonna run and be free.”
Sunday, they did just that. After both had finished — Cari in 3:49:44, Rick in 3:56:48 — they posed with their daughter for a picture. Their finisher medals hung around their necks, the shiny parts reflecting the Oklahoma sunshine.
“Today,” Rick said, “just couldn't be better.”
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.