OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA — Put 18 marathons together.
That’s a little more than 471 miles.
The number of actual steps is impossible to count for people like John Hargrove and Penny Voss.
“Every year, when this rolls around, we just get excited about it,” says Voss.
“It’s something to do,” says Hargrove. “Set your goals.”
Hargrove was already an experienced long distance athlete back in 2000.
He had a streak of 23 consecutive Andy Payne Marathons going and dozens of 100 mile races.
A new local race was perfect, he said, to just keep going.
“If you’ve got a big goal,” he says, “set little ones in the direction you want to go. That’s what a marathon is to me.”
Penny was already running too but never a marathon until the first Oklahoma City Run to Remember.
She recalls talking with her running group in Norman.
“We looked at each other and said, that’s the one. So we started training in January and we all ran it that year.”
So cut to the Saturday afternoon before the race.
A small group of people gathered in the Runners’ Lounge at the Marathon Expo.
Last year there were 43 runners, this year 40.
These are the people who’ve run them all.
“It’s all about why we’re here to run,” says race announcer Whit Raymond. “We run to remember.”
They all have their reasons.
Allen Folz still runs to remember his son’s soccer coach, Gene Hodges, one of the 168 who lost their lives in the Murrah Bombing.
Stephen Abernathy was a Midwest City cop in 1995, a first responder who helped work the crime scene.
For man of the runners the Memorial Marathon was their first long race.
For many others it remains the only marathon in which they compete.
Organizers treat these participants like VIP’s.
Even the slowest of them are allowed a spot up front for the start.
‘Dedication’, ‘one foot in front of the other’, finding inspiration that pushes you past what you thought your limits were.
These old sayings cease being cliches if you use them as fuel to keep going.
Just ask the few who’ve managed to Run ‘Em All.