Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon notebook: Terror victim runs, remembers

Martin said: “I want to be here to prove to guys like that, that life goes on. I've been an amputee for 32 years, and I'm just getting started. I want those people to know that you can go on to do anything.”
by Ed Godfrey and Ryan Aber and Stephanie Kuzydym Published: April 28, 2013

Cindy Martin knows all too well the effects of terrorism.

Martin was at Oktoberfest in Munich on Sept. 26, 1980, when a pipe bomb exploded.

The explosion killed 13 and injured 211, including Martin.

Martin lost both of her legs in the explosion.

“I want to be here to prove to guys like that, that life goes on,” Martin said.

Martin walked the 5K on Sunday morning with the help of her prosthetic legs and a cane.

She walked with her husband, Terry, who signed her up for the event for the first time five years ago. She hasn't missed one since.

“We schedule everything we do around this time of year around making it here for this,” Martin said.

The couple moved to Oklahoma in 1983 and now live in Perkins.

The recent events in Boston, especially because many people lost their legs in that explosion, made this year's event even more special for her.

“I've been an amputee for 32 years and I'm just getting started,” Martin said. “I want those people to know that you can go on to do anything.”

SWITZER HANDS OUT MEDALS, SHAKES HANDS

Barry Switzer smiled as one runner after another lined up to get a medal from him.

 The former Oklahoma football coach and his wife, who is on the Memorial Foundation Board, were passing out finisher medals.

“Some of them don't even recognize me,” Switzer said.

But a lot of runners did recognize him. Some even called it the best part to their marathon.

“The National Memorial means something to all of us,” Switzer said.” It's tragic we have to memorialize something like that but because of what did happen, it makes you feel good that we're not going to let those 168 ever be forgotten.”

Switzer, who was coach of the Dallas Cowboys when the Oklahoma City Bombing occurred 18 years ago, was glad the Boston Marathon blasts didn't stop runners from attending the Oklahoma City marathon.

“We're not afraid,” Switzer said. “We're Americans. We just accept challenges and we go out on the front line. We're patriots. We don't back off from anything.”

FAULKNER WINS HALF-MARATHON

Local running legend Jerry Faulkner had a triumphant return to Oklahoma City as he won the men's half marathon for the second time.

Faulkner, who was the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon winner in 2006, moved from Edmond to New York last May. He works for Nike and now runs for New York Athletic Club.

“This is my hometown,” said the 31-year-old Faulkner. “This is my home marathon so I always want to come back.

“My grandfather passed away in March. He was a big person in my life. This win was for him and the last mile definitely was for him. It was also for the people in Boston too.”

10-YEAR-OLD FINISHES HALF

Shannon Varenhorst wasn't too impressed with her race in the half marathon.

Everybody else was, though. Varenhorst turned 10 just last week and was running in her third half marathon.

Varenhorst finished in 1:57.20.

“I should've done better,” she said. “I just didn't think I ran very well.”

Varenhorst, from Mustang, ran with her dad, Henry. He finished about nine minutes ahead of his daughter.

“I want to prove to younger kids that you're able to do things like this,” Varenhorst said.

She also ran half marathons in Austin and at Lake Stanley Draper. Varenhorst also competes in adult triathlons.

THE BIG RED LIPS

Twenty participants from Stigler all wore black shirts splashed with big red lips on the front in memory of Pamela Cleveland Argo, a 1977 graduate of Stigler High School and Oklahoma City resident who was killed in the Oklahoma City Bombing.

Argo was fond of dressing in black and wearing bright red lipstick. The shirts, which also had Psalm 73:26 on the back, were provided to the runners by Argo's parents, Billy and Joyce Cleveland of Stigler.

“Pam always enjoyed a fuss being made about her, so she would have loved this,” Joyce Cleveland said.

IRVING FIREFIGHTER INSPIRED BY OKC FIREFIGHTERS

Irving, Texas, firefighter David Lewis, who volunteered at the Oklahoma City Bombing site in 1995, participated in the 5K in full firefighting gear with helmet.

“My sister told me she had seen (Oklahoma City) firemen do this,” Lewis said. “I told her I would like to come up and do this.

“I didn't find out until I got here that all the firemen that are doing it had been training and practicing and are doing the half-marathon.

“At first, I thought I might give it a try, but I came up here to be with my family. I may come back and do the half-marathon next year.”

COUPLE GETS ENGAGED THEN GOES RUNNING

Matt Danner of Oklahoma City decided the day of the marathon would be a good time to propose to his girlfriend and training partner, McKalyn Muldowney of Oklahoma City.

Both were running for the first time in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.

“This is our first time to run in any kind of organized race,” Danner said. “In previous years, we had gone to cheer on our friends in the half-marathon.”

Danner, 25, said it seemed liked the right time to propose.

“We are not runners by any means, but we had worked pretty hard to run this together,” Danner said. “It just seemed like a really special day to do this. I proposed then we immediately went over and got in line with the other 5K runners.”

Muldowney, 25, wore her new engagement ring during the 5K even though it was too big and had to be wrapped with Scotch tape to stay on her finger.

“There was no way I was taking it off,” she said.

MEMORIAL MARATHON HAS SPECIAL MEANING FOR SURVIVOR

Oklahoma City Bombing survivor Amy Downs runs to honor friends that perished in the blast 18 years ago.

Last year, Downs, who worked in the Murrah Building credit union, ran the marathon in 61/2 hours. It was the same amount of time she was buried in the Murrah Building rubble.

“It's freaky,” she said of the coincidence. “I didn't plan it that way, trust me.”

Downs, who has lost 200 pounds in the last five years, ran the half-marathon this year. She was first inspired to run by passing out medals at the marathon.

“Obviously, it has a lot of meaning being a survivor,” Downs said of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. “This (year), it kind of took on a whole new level because of Boston, knowing there were Boston runners coming here to run again.”

Downs said she spoke to some of the Boston runners on Sunday.

“Unfortunately, we kind of have a common bond,” she said. “I just encouraged them that it was fantastic to not give into the fear and finish it and send that message to the rest of America.”

Eighteen of Downs' 33 co-workers in the credit union were killed on April 19, 1995.

“It's just part of your life,” Downs said. “It becomes the new normal. There is no closure or no whatever. Like anything traumatic in your life it becomes part of your life. It's who you are.”

RUNNING WITH SEMPER FI

Rick McAmis, 49 of Bixby, crossed the finish line to a large amount of clapping.

McAmis carried a Marine flag through his half-marathon run in honor of the two Marines lost in the Oklahoma City Bombing: Cpt. Randy Guzman and Sgt. Ben Davis.

He also wore red socks in honor of the Boston bombing victims.

“We have to stand up and fight back,” McAmis said. “That's what this race is all about.”

 

23 FIREFIGHTERS WALK THE HALF MARATHON

Carrying 70 pounds of gear, 23 Oklahoma firefighters walked to cheers, high-fives and pats on their back in this year's half marathon.

Joe Bennett and Robert McGuire of the Oak Cliff Fire Department walked for the third and second time, respectively. First-time walkers and fellow fire fighters Justin Moore and Josh Mullet, also of Oak Cliff, joined them.

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by Ed Godfrey
Reporter Sr.
Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more...
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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...
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by Stephanie Kuzydym
Reporter
Stephanie Kuzydym learned at a young age that life is a game of inches. That's just one reason why she loves football. Kuzydym joined The Oklahoman in July 2012. Before arriving in the state, Kuzydym was an intern for the sports departments at...
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