Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon officials will be smart, but they do not want to give into fear

As of late Monday afternoon, the Oklahoma City race was on as scheduled, but that could change.
by Jenni Carlson Published: April 15, 2013

Jeff Redding saw the images of explosions near the finish line at the Boston Marathon and reacted like the rest of us.

“It was flat out scary,” he said.

But the Oklahoma City man noticed something else Monday afternoon that many of us might have missed — the time on the marathon clock.

It was 4:08.

“That's about how fast I run a marathon,” Redding said. “It kind of puts it in perspective that if I was running Boston, that would be approximately the same time that I would be finishing the race, and that's really scary.”

On a day terror came to Boston, all of Oklahoma City held its breath. What happened there was quickly linked to what happened here. It was another bombing on American soil, and it comes the same week that our city will commemorate our bombing.

But in a strange twist, the Boston Marathon bombing also comes less than two weeks before the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, which is run in remembrance of the 168 people who died in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

As of late Monday afternoon, the Oklahoma City race was on as scheduled, but that could change.

“We don't want to have a knee-jerk reaction that we're going to give into the fear,” said Oklahoma City National Memorial executive director Kari Watkins, “but we also don't want to be careless about our decision.”

If there's anywhere that will be hypervigilant about a situation like this, it's Oklahoma City.

Race organizers began coordinating safety plans for this April's race last May. They met with city, state and federal officials, everyone from Oklahoma City Police to the FBI.

Watkins and her team were actually meeting Monday morning to finalize some of the safety plan.

How detailed is it?

There are procedures in place to keep water buckets from being contaminated at any of the course's water stops.

“It is a well-oiled machine,” Watkins said of the coordination between the race and emergency officials.

But of course, you have to think that the Boston Marathon had every precaution in place, too. It is the granddaddy of all marathons, the ultimate for many runners. It has been around — and gone without incident — for more than a hundred years.

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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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