Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon: Gorilla Hill has become popular stop during marathon

The Crown Heights neighborhood supports runners with encouraging words, bananas
by Ryan Aber Published: April 22, 2013


photo - Marathoners make their way up Gorilla Hill, Shartel Ave near NW 42nd, during the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, Sunday, May 1, 2010, in Oklahoma City. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: KOD
Marathoners make their way up Gorilla Hill, Shartel Ave near NW 42nd, during the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, Sunday, May 1, 2010, in Oklahoma City. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman ORG XMIT: KOD

Steve Cole never dreamed he'd own a 50-foot tall gorilla.

Now, the gorilla that has stood watch over runners of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon in Cole's front yard at 40th and Shartel in Crown Heights belongs to him.

“I'm now the proud owner,” Cole said. “Fortunately, it's red, white and blue so we'll probably have a flag flying from it this year.”

The area on Shartel between 38th and 40th between miles six and seven on the course has become known as “Gorilla Hill” and Cole and a group of neighbors and friends have gone all in with the concept.

An ever-growing group of people — Cole's children joined in last year — stand at the corner in banana costumes encouraging the runners as they pass.

The group hangs several banners across the street and decorates the area with about 500 balloons.

This year, a local radio station will have its sound van camped out on the corner Sunday morning; Ben E. Keith donated several crates of bananas the group will give to runners as they pass; and the group printed and is selling T-shirts to raise money for the purchase of the gorilla. Another local company donated helium for the balloons.

Gorilla Hill's Facebook page has more than 550 likes.

“It's great because that's kind of at the top of the first long hill,” said Tiffany Eichner, a friend of Cole's who has been supporting runners at the corner since the tradition started as an unofficial water stop. “It gives them an extra spring in their step when they see a bunch of bananas encouraging them as they go by.”

The water stop idea proved messy — paper cups wound up everywhere — and Cole wanted to do something different.

It started with using the color yellow — the color of remembrance for the Oklahoma City bombing — and it took off from there.


by Ryan Aber
Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
+ show more


Trending Now


AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    New OSU mandate requires sexual-violence prevention training for all students
  2. 2
    Report: Sooners to play Houston in 2016 Advocare Texas Kickoff
  3. 3
    WATCH: Big 12 football coaches read mean tweets
  4. 4
    OU football: Trevor Knight ranked No. 81 in ESPN's top 100 College Football rankings
  5. 5
    Dez Bryant unhappy with contract negotiations, says so on Twitter
+ show more