OKLAHOMA CITY - Big changes are coming to the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon beginning in 2019, including course changes and a new finish line location.
Beginning in 2019, the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon is changing the course.
"Where it goes is pretty important because this memorial marathon is a cultural touchstone now for our community," said Mayor of Oklahoma City David Holt at a press conference Wednesday. "It's about that all parts of this city matter and that all people in this city matter, and I'm thrill that we will now take this course through south OKC, through the heart of the Latino community."
The highlights of the new course include running south on Robinson to Reno, west on Reno to Walker, south over the bridge and past Little Flower Church then east on Southwest 15th in between what will be the new Lower Scissortail Park and the Oklahoma River. Runners will then turn back north on Robinson to see the sun rising over downtown Oklahoma City and then turn east at Chesapeake Arena through Thunder Alley.
The course then resumes the same course as past years along Sheridan to Lincoln. One small change on Lincoln: at 18th Street, runners will move to the east lanes and under the 23rd Street Tunnel.
Runners will continue along the newly-redeveloped 23rd Street corridor until Walker, north on Walker then east on 25th. They will stay on 25th and then north on Robinson to Sparrow Park.
Marathoners, half marathoners and relay runners will still run up Gorilla Hill, and half marathoners will start their journey back toward the finish line just past the big Gorilla.
Other major changes on the course include marathoners going along Britton to Pennsylvania, but they will not run to and along Lake Hefner. The marathoners and half marathoners will run parallel streets (Classen and Shartel) from 18th to 4th street where all runners will rejoin on 4th Street running east then turn south on Hudson heading to the new finish line just past the crosswalk between Devon Energy and Bank of Oklahoma tower.
The 5K is changing, too.
"The new route will take runners downtown. We will go through Automobile Alley, north though, and then through some historic neighborhoods and then back to the same finish line here on Hudson," said Kari Watkins, race director and executive director for the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum.
Watkins said another big change is Lake Hefner, where runners will no longer be running around the lake.
"That's a big deal because, while it's beautiful, it's also the most windy part of the course, and we've heard you runners loud and clear - you're tired of the lake," Watkins said.
"I commend Kari and the leadership of the board for making this move. I think it is most fitting and certainly illustrates, I think, our continued ideal that we all work toward of one OKC," Holt said.
The Kids Marathon will take a different route this year to avoid construction and the changes to the new marathon route but will still be an incredible downtown race among the skyscrapers and end in the beautiful newly-redesigned Kerr Park as it has the past two years.