Sitting under a downtown shade tree off the corner of 6th St. and Broadway early Sunday afternoon, Bronnie Trantham was already talking about next year’s Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.
This was the first time the 44-year-old had participated in the event, finishing her leg of the relay a little after noon Sunday.
“It was even more fun than I expected,” Trantham said.
When you’re legally blind, taking part in a marathon isn’t something you often think about.
But with the help of a program called “Every Mile Counts,” Trantham and two others with sight impairments got to be part of Sunday’s special event.
Shelby Breit, a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma and a Wichita, Kan., native, began organizing the group last October, providing guide runners for those who wanted to be on the relay team.
Breit always had a passion for running. She has completed five half marathons and two full marathons.
At OU, she joined the Delta Gamma sorority, which had a philanthropy project of serving the visually impaired.
“Back at the beginning of the school year, I decided I wanted to combine those two things,” Breit said. “We work a lot with New View Oklahoma for community service and volunteering with their program. I reached out to them to see if they’d be interested in starting a guide running program.
“They were very instrumental in getting this off the ground and helping me get participants.”
Breit turned to her sisters — her biological sister, Caroline, and her sorority sisters — for help.
“It was a little nerve-wracking at first, because I didn’t want to mess up,” said Caroline Breit, an OU freshman who was Trantham’s guide on Sunday. “At our first practice, I didn’t know how to guide people, and I was nervous, but it was really fun. It wasn’t anything to be nervous about.”
Trantham’s vision is 20/300 in one eye and 20/100 in the other, so she has enough vision to keep on the right path. Caroline’s guidance was most useful for bumps, holes or curbs that could come into Trantham’s path.
Other visually impaired participants held a rope that the guide runner would use to lead them.
In all, nearly a dozen people took part in the marathon as part of the Every Mile Counts program, with three visually impaired participants, plus their guide runners and a relay team from Delta Gamma that ran simply to support the cause.
Trantham practiced for about a month to prepare for Sunday’s relay, in addition to walking a mile to and from work at New Vision Oklahoma every day. And she’s ready for the fall, when she can start training for next year’s marathon.
“We want to start in the fall to try to build up our mileage, so maybe we can do the half-marathon next spring,” Shelby Breit said.
Trantham once walked a 5K for the March of Dimes when she was in high school, but hadn’t had an opportunity to do anything like it since. So she jumped at the chance to be part of the marathon.
“I love exercise and I love to do things for a good cause,” she said. “It was a great day.”