“I was so overcome with emotion just seeing all the different ages and disabilities and body shapes crossing the finish line,” she said.
She pledged then to run in the marathon the next year in honor of her friends and co-workers who had died in the bombing. When Downs first started running, she could only run for 10 seconds then would have to stop for two minutes to recover.
In 2010, she ran her first half marathon in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. She skipped the 2011 event, but then met Oklahoma City running guru Mark Bravo and started working with him and learning how to properly train.
She now runs three half marathons per year on average and completed her third half marathon in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon on Sunday.
She ran the full marathon in the event two years ago. In September, she plans to participate in her first Redman Triathlon, entering the half triathlon, which will be swimming 1.2 miles, cycling for 56 miles and running the 13-mile half-marathon.
Downs, 47, is often asked to share her story with clubs, churches and other organizations.
“A lot of people think they have to have this tall, lean athletic looking body. They think that is the runner,” Downs said.
“Running events are not just for elite athletes. When they see somebody like me, who doesn’t fit that body type and is out there doing it, then they think, ‘If she is doing it, then I can do it.’”