Sunday, October 4th 2020, 6:38 pm
By: Tevis Hillis
OKLAHOMA CITY –
The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon kicked off the start of its two-week virtual race Sunday it describes as a “Run to Remember.”
The marathon is marking several firsts in 2020. It is the first-ever virtual race, the first time the race was postponed six months and the first time thousands of people did not meet at the starting line.
“It’s nice to see all the different runners coming in small groups and just making the very best of this virtual Memorial Marathon,” OKC Memorial Marathon Race Director Kari Watkins said.
Small groups gathered to run their own races. The 405-running group dedicated 168 seconds of silence to the lives lost a quarter-century ago.
“Remember the memorial marathon, and we will never forget,” Governor Kevin Stitt said.
Stitt ran with a small group while others began their journey many miles away.
“Today, runners are running in all 50 states, five different countries. Love seeing the pictures of Spain and Dubai come in as they run the race,” Watkins said.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused the race’s initial postponement, but Watkins was pleased about this year’s participants in a different format.
“We have had an 80 percent retention rate of runners, and we are very proud of that,” Watkins said. “Most people have 15 to 20 percent across the country.”
Cycling was a new wrinkle of the virtual race, but the question is still in the air if the marathon will welcome the event in years to come.
“We have 500 people on bicycles today in Oklahoma City riding the race,” Watkins said. “We will take a look at it and see.”
Participants have until Oct. 18 to complete the virtual race.