ARDMORE, OKLAHOMA — As a kid Allison Smalley used to run around on the rocks above Turner Falls and beg her dad for a coin to look through the telescope.
As a grown-up she thought of running in a much different way, more along the lines of Al Schneider and other, local long distance runners.
“We really like it up here,” he says while stretching. “You’ve got a good view.”
You can follow Allison’s line of thought like a runner follows his path.
She got to thinking that Old Highway 77 might make a nice looking route for a point to point marathon.
“I’m married to a really good runner,” she says. “I’m in the cheering squad at a lot of races and I thought, hey, we could do this in Ardmore.”
Running the 17 to 18 miles from the Arbuckles to Ardmore has been thought of before.
But until a few years ago it hadn’t been a recognized marathon race.
Al says, “You know we’re all kind of crazy when it comes to running so we all thought, yeah. We can pull this off.”
The course is unique for most races; downhill from the mountains, across the Carter and Murray County lines, through the Bar Nuthin’ horse ranch where horses have been known to run alongside the racers, south on the highway, through Ardmore’s Regional Park and the lake there.
It’s tricky, say people who’ve run this course.
You can see your destination early in the race but there are miles to go before you rest.
“The terrain is challenging,” says Schneider. “It does have a net elevation decrease but it’s rolling hills all the way.”
The marathon course ends up at the 50 yard line of Noble Stadium.
One lap around the track and it’s done.
Allison thought her race might be fun. She never realized it would become so popular.
“Last year we had 1,500 runners from 30 states and 3 countries.”
So every March the runners come for a different kind of Boston Marathon qualifier, one with hardly any spectators at all, but a prettier 26 miles you’ll never run.
Organizers call it the A2A Marathon. It takes place Sunday, March 3.
All the proceeds go to benefit the Ardmore Mercy Cancer Center.