Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon: Boston tragedy has turned marathon running into an act of defiance

by Jenni Carlson Published: April 25, 2013
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photo - RUN / RUNNERS / RUNNING: Runners flow past the  Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum at the beginning of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon in Oklahoma City, Sunday, April 29, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
RUN / RUNNERS / RUNNING: Runners flow past the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum at the beginning of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon in Oklahoma City, Sunday, April 29, 2012. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Distance running has been called lots of things.

Difficult. Admirable. Crazy.

But in these days since the Boston Marathon bombings, running has become something else — an act of defiance.

“There's a real strong sense among runners that we're not going to let that event stop us from doing what we do,” Bill Snipes said.

The man who coordinates marathon training for the Oklahoma City Landrunners running club has witnessed the change. Yes, he has heard of security worries and safety concerns from runners since those blasts rocked the running world, but that fear doesn't hold sway.

“They're just not going to let that get in their way,” Snipes said, “and they're certainly not going to let a couple of terrorists — domestic or foreign or whoever — stop them.”

On the weekend of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, we will see that defiance on our city streets. Upward of 25,000 men, women and children will compete in the various races, and while each of them will run for a different reason, in the first major American marathon since the Boston bombings, many will run to show that they can't be stopped.

Not by fears.

Not by bombs.

Not by anything.

Running has never before been framed this way, and there's evidence that it is changing the way runners, both old and new, see the sport.

Maurice Lee III has noticed as much as he surfs the web. The Landrunners' vice president frequents several running pages on Facebook, and in the past week and a half, he's felt the tenor change.

“There's a lot of defiance,” he said, “a lot of ‘I'm running for Boston' and ‘I'm more determined to run than ever.'”

Will it prompt runners to enter new races or attempt longer distances? Will it bring new people to running?

Will it create a bump for the sport?

“I wouldn't be surprised,” said Mark Bravo.

The Oklahoma City-based running coach who does TV commentary during the Memorial Marathon was talking to a radio executive earlier this week. The man told Bravo that he'd recently lost 25 pounds and was thinking about doing more running.


by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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