Veteran Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon runner back in the Run to Remember after overcoming COVID-19

Great State

ALTUS, Okla. (KFOR) – Jeff Greenlee only started running at this city reservoir in Altus to increase his endurance for golf.

“I was trying to get in shape,” he says. “A couple of miles here or there.”

He’s covered a lot of miles since then, and largely ditched those ‘spoiled’ walks for something he found out he was much better at.

“It was just one of those things,” he smiles. “I know I don’t play golf very well but running was just one of those things where I had some luck.”

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Jeff Greenlee, a seasoned runner.

Greenlee has run dozens of marathons now, several at the Memorial race.

He was fast enough at the 2019 Memorial Marathon to qualify for the Boston Marathon, putting him in an elite class of long-distance runners.

Jeff qualifies, “I don’t know if I’m really fast but I found out I’m faster than 90 percent of the other runners in the race so I stay with it.”

His positive test for COVID-19 came in mid-November of 2020.

Jeff doesn’t know how he contracted it, but the virus hit hard.

He recalls, “My blood oxygen levels fell down and I would go to sleep and relax, and all of a sudden I couldn’t breathe.”

He spent a week in the hospital and on oxygen for three weeks after that.

“It’s a pretty scary thing,” he admits.

For an impatient runner who likes going fast, that first, slow walk to the end of his street was extra frustrating.

“You don’t just bounce back,” he continues.

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In the hospital with COVID.

Jeff doesn’t credit his conditioning, necessarily, for helping him through his illness.

He knows there were other people in good health who didn’t make it.

He does credit health care workers and doctors though.

By February, he was running short distances.

Greenlee grins and tells us, “I don’t have the patience to go slow. That’s my problem out there.”

At the 2021 Run to Remember, he’ll line up as a half-marathon participant.

He figures he’s 85-90 percent back to where he was a year ago.

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Back on the run.

Not ready for a full marathon yet, he tells us, but gaining on it with every step.

“I’m extremely thankful every day.”

This spring, Greenlee volunteered for a $1.75 million study conducted by the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation to study the body’s response and recovery to COVID-19.

For more information on that study go to

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