OKC Memorial Marathon goes virtual, but Yukon neighborhood shows up to support runner

Ed Godfrey

Published: Wed, September 30, 2020 6:00 AM

Gretchen Phelps has trained for the Memorial Marathon by running through her neighborhood. Now that will be her marathon course Sunday with family, friends and neighbors cheering her on. [PHOTO PROVIDED]

When Gretchen Phelps trained this summer for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon in the sweltering heat around her Yukon neighborhood, her neighbors began to notice.

Phelps, 32, would run three or four times weekly, somewhere between five and 20 miles each time, over the same route. Her neighbors, realizing she was training for the marathon, started offering her words of encouragement as she ran.

“It started as I would run by our neighborhood pool and people started cheering,” she said.

As her training continued, neighbors then started providing her food and water along the way. Some started turning on their water sprinklers for her to zip through and cool off. One boy would come out of his house and squirt her with a water gun as she ran by.

Soon, Phelps had a neighborhood of supporters on her training runs. It was as if she was running the Memorial Marathon.

“They give me bananas,” Phelps said of her neighbors. “I have had people make me bagels. I’ve had them cheer for me and yell for me and honk for me all during this training in my neighborhood.”

When it was announced that the Memorial Marathon, which had already been postponed from April until October because of COVID-19, would be a virtual event with runners choosing their own courses, Phelps decided her Yukon neighborhood would be the perfect venue.

“Everyone in my neighborhood has been so supportive,” she said. “I felt like why wouldn’t I give back to the neighborhood and let them see the finale. They’ve been with me this entire time, why would I go run it somewhere else where they can’t cheer me on?”

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