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dark clouds could not dampen the spirit
of the memorial marathon

The Race Before Us | Oklahoma Sports & Fitness, March / April 2015 Issue

Severe storms are not foreign to Oklahomans. In our state, when the skies fill with ominous clouds, we can never be sure what may unfold.

Last April, the start of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon was delayed as a storm loomed overhead. Dark skies prowled in every direction, as lightning near the course made it unsafe for runners to start. We huddled inside nearby parking garages, hotel lobbies, and church sanctuaries away from the rain hoping the storm would soon pass.

Our reaction to the delay was disappointment. Many of us had prepared long hours and suffered through many rigorous training runs to get to this moment. We set our alarms for dark-thirty to get to the start line, and double-checked to make sure we had everything ready to roll. And now? Would we be forced to walk away?

Rapidly, my attitude about the situation changed. My waiting position offered a clear look at the National Memorial grounds. And though the wind blew rain in every direction and clouded my view, the glow from the field of empty chairs never faded.

The wait was uncomfortable. Our early Sunday morning run had been delayed for over an hour, and our fuel plan had been flustered by the presence of several lightning bolts. Yet, when I considered the bigger purpose of the day, those disruptions warranted no discussion. Any concern about our pre-race strategy coming unhinged was absurd when considering the chairs that stood motionless just yards away.

After some time getting acquainted with our fellow runner sandwiched next to us, we were called to the start line. Floods of runners seemed to come from all angles, filling the start corral and offering hope of a restored race. Once gathered, we shared 168 seconds of silence like every other year at the start of the Memorial Marathon. But this year had a twist: large, cold raindrops blanketed us and challenged us to seek cover.

Not one runner made a move; not one person left the corral. The seconds may have passed slower, but they carried a heavier weight. They were a deafening reminder that the discomfort and pain of a disheveled morning meant we were alive and well. It was still the day to remember those victims. It was still the time to celebrate life. This storm was not going to destroy the day. This storm had come to remind us to be resilient -- a theme we know well in Oklahoma.

Sean M. Call, Publisher/Editor
Oklahoma Sports & Fitness

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