Story by Darl DeVault, contributing editor
Seniors 65 or older who like to walk or run can invest in a new experience, the Senior Marathon, on April 29th at the 23rd annual Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, akin to taking a vacation rather than buying themselves a new toy. Psychologists say it is much better for one’s well-being to invest in experiences rather than purchasing new things to own.
After 22 years of community service to help fund the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon now provides a new experience.
For the first time, seniors who walk or run before the event can support the downtown museum to help to honor the victims, survivors, rescuers, and those affected by the April 19, 1995 bombing. Mercy is the presenting sponsor of the inaugural event.
Beginning in January, Senior Marathoners who sign up will walk or run 25 miles before race weekend. They can walk as they typically walk or run in their local areas, recording their 1.5 miles weekly. They add up their mileage on a Senior Marathon Running Log available online 2023-Senior-Marathon-Running-Log.pdf (okcmarathon.com) to equal the first 25 miles of a marathon.
This mileage allows them to be a part of one of our nation’s most significant feel-good events for fitness in the lead-up to the “Run to Remember” event Sunday, April 30. The day before the marathon, Saturday, at 8.m., the Senior Marathoners complete their event between the 7 a.m. start to the 5K run and the Kid’s Marathon of a similar style at 9 a.m.
From the marathon starting line at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, seniors can run or walk the last 1.2 miles of their marathon distance directly south to the finish in Scissortail Park to be part of something much bigger than themselves. This allows seniors to feel like “elite” participants because of the on-course support from a massive outpouring of cheering from volunteering OKC residents.
These new Senior Marathoners can feel the camaraderie of attending, interacting, and supporting the Health and Fitness Expo that Saturday at the Oklahoma City Convention Center. The OKC Convention and Visitors Bureau and OU Health present the Expo adjacent to the finish line.
“There’s a generation of Oklahomans who were ever-present on April 19, 1995 … so we want to reconnect both the Memorial and race weekend with the generation that was so key on that day,” said Chris Fleming, Marathon trustee chairman. “The Memorial Marathon is America’s most meaningful marathon, and the new Senior Marathon will now be a part of it.”
Oklahoma City provides walking opportunities on its trail system, but walkers in groups along these trails are a rarity. This specific new goal in April reached with the logging of miles in January, February, and March has the potential to spark groups of seniors socializing as they use the trail system. Officials say the YMCA, senior centers and community agencies will offer senior walking events for those wanting to accumulate 25 miles in a group.
The two-day event some years hosts more than 25,000 runners and walkers from every state and several foreign countries. Aside from this inaugural inclusion of seniors, the event offers a marathon, half marathon, marathon relay (5 member teams), 5K, Kid’s marathon and a wheelchair division.
Costing $30, seniors will receive an event t-shirt, finishing medal and free entry to the Museum with their bib number as they share the experience with their friends and family. Achieving their fitness goal can energize many people to participate in an activity providing good health, a key to aging gracefully.
This is just one of the ways this new facet of the marathon can stimulate Oklahomans and those around the country to enhance their lives at the finish line in Oklahoma City. The marathon weekend is the largest fundraiser for the privately owned and operated Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.
The marathon has built a reputation as one of the best in America, praised in many running publications. It also attracts legends of marathoning to speak at the Expo and run at the event. This new form of inclusion has the potential to make the event even more significant as one of the premier marathons in the country. For more info, go online to: *NEW* Senior Marathon – Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon (https://okcmarathon.com/).