In the first few years of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, Steve Cole had a water stop in front of his house on the corner of 40th and Shartel in Crown Heights.
“It was a mess to pick up all the cups, though,” Cole said.
So Cole and other neighborhood residents decided to do something a little more fun to encourage the runners that came through the neighborhood just shy of the seven-mile mark through the course.
Cole, who was downtown on the day of the Oklahoma City bombing, started off the yellow — a color of remembrance for the bombing — and the name Gorilla Hill.
Sunday morning, Cole and more than 20 others dressed up in banana costumes to encourage the runners while a giant inflatable gorilla towered over them in Cole's yard.
The group lines the street with yellow balloons with the Gorilla Hill logo, and a sign stretches across the street above the runners.
He's even taken it to the point of painting his house yellow.
“It's grown every year, and we'd love to have a lot more people out here with us,” Cole said. “We have so much fun with it. We're having a ball. It's the greatest event in the city.”
Neighborhood resident Lane Wheeler was a little different from the rest of the group Sunday morning.
Instead of wearing the banana costume, Wheeler wore a Tigger suit he's had since his daughter — now 13 — was a toddler.
Less than a mile back on the course, a gathering on the corner of Walker gives runners a different kind of encouragement.
Music blares — including the theme song from Rocky — as runners make the turn and runners are offered a different kind of beverage. Competitors are offered beer or shots of liquor.
A great majority just keep running, some laugh. A few stop for a quick beer. At least one — a pace runner — takes a chug of Jagermeister as he's cheered on by the revelers.
In Nichols Hills, as runners come up Waverly Avenue around the 11-mile point, the pack is much more spread out than it was in Crown Heights.
Supporters are also less common here as morning rains kept the numbers down.
Ashley Myers, husband Daniel and their children, 3-year-old Addie and 1-year-old Brycen, stay in their spot, though, with a sign cheering on Ashley's cousin, Jessica, who came in from Arkansas to run the marathon.
“We live right up the street, and we routed it last night to find out the best spot and about what time she'd come through,” Ashley Myers said. “She's done such a good job training that we wanted to be out here for her.”
A pace runner quickly drops a noisemaker with each of the children and Addie encourages the runners by blowing it as they come by, still waiting for their cousin.
Closer to the finish line in Mesta Park, Mark Moody is one of around 25 people at the corner of 18th Street and Lee.
His claps are near constant.
“You're almost there,” he cheers. “Just a little bit more. Wonderful, wonderful. Keep going, keep going.”
Others at the corner — many from the First Church of the Nazarene — do the same.
“We did it last year and had a wonderful time,” Moody said. “These people are wonderful and dedicate themselves to this. It gives me a lot of strength seeing what they're able to accomplish.
“The marathon just keeps getting bigger. It's just incredible.”