The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon returns, expands for 2023.
Oklahoma City National Memorial’s annual marathon, the Run to Remember, has been a communal source of healing since 2001. The tragedy of April 19, 1995, and the devastating effects of violence still resonate more than 20 years later; the marathon aims to preserve and share the story as its relevance grows for a younger generation. All proceeds from the marathon fund the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, which does not receive local, state or federal support.
During the final weekend in April, participants and spectators from all over the world come together in memory of those who lost their lives, those who survived and others whose lives were forever changed by the 1995 bombing. What started as a group of 5,000 runners and walkers in its first year has grown to over 25,000 participants.
“We have runners from 49 states and six different countries,” said Kari Watkins, race director, president and CEO of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. “People are coming from around the world to run and to remember. This is a race with a mission that’s different from many other races.”
Participants can compete in a full or half marathon, a 5K or a five-person relay. The full marathon serves as an official Boston Marathon qualifying event. Participants in the kids marathon log 25 miles in the weeks preceding the race and then complete the final 1.2 miles on race day.
Each race starts with 168 seconds of silence in memory of the victims. Race participants also pass by 168 banners along the course, each bearing the name of those killed in the bombing.
In their efforts to include everyone in its celebration of life, the marathon organizers are introducing a senior marathon for 2023. “We’ve looked at this race for a couple of years, and the idea came from one of our trustees, Chris Fleming,” Watkins said. “The course is already set, and he felt like it was another area where we could reach people who couldn’t do a full or half marathon.”
The Senior Marathon was patterned after the kids marathon. “You run a mile or two a week, depending on when you start,” Watkins said. “So, you’re doing 25 miles ahead of race weekend. It gives you a chance to get out and walk or exercise at the senior center, a track, your church or your neighborhood. Then on the Saturday morning of race weekend, you walk or run the last 1.2 miles.” All races finish at Scissortail Park.
In the past, about 3,500 to 5,000 parents and kids participated in the kids marathon. As it’s the senior marathon’s first year, staff anticipate that about 1,000 will participate. “Almost 500 have signed up, and they’re already training all over the metro area,” Watkins said. “Senior centers are doing exercise classes. The YMCA is doing classes. Mercy is also doing some. It really is about getting seniors engaged. Most of these people likely lived here at the time. They know about the bombing; they know the story. But it’s about giving them a chance to participate.”
For more information about the OKC Memorial Marathon, the museum, event schedules or how you can participate, visit okcmarathon.com.