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.
If terror can hit Boston, why not any other marathon?
That is a question Oklahoma City marathon officials will be grappling with in the coming days. They will gather all the information that they can, then make an informed decision.
“We are aware that this is not an essential or necessary event,” said Chet Collier, one of the Memorial Marathon's founders. “We're not afraid to cancel it if we feel threatened, but in the absence of a credible threat, we're going to proceed forward and make this the safest event that we can possibly make it.
“I am determined that we have an absolutely safe event.”
Watkins said, “We will take every necessary precaution that we know to make it a safe route.”
Will those promises assuage runners?
It's too early to tell.
Watkins admits that she's curious to see whether runners will pull out. Will people decide not to run? Will what they saw in Boston keep them from running Oklahoma City?
Jeff Redding isn't about to let it.
“Doesn't change my attitude at all,” he said of running the Memorial Marathon. “If anything, I want to run it today more so than ever before.”
That's saying something.
Redding is one of only 44 runners who've run every Memorial Marathon. This will be No. 13, and he is more resolute than ever to keep alive his now annual tradition.
In the past, he has run in memory of the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing. Since he didn't know anyone who died in the bombing, he picks one at random each year.
He will do that again this year, but he plans to add the victims of the Boston Marathon to his running bib.
“We'll be there on April 28th,” Redding said, “running for all of them as well as for Oklahoma City.”
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.