Oklahoma Christian students race to prepare for something more than finals

Members of the TeamOC group from last year's run gathered at the finish line. Submitted photo.

Members of the TeamOC group from last year's run gathered at the finish line. Submitted photo.

Oklahoma Christian University students will run to remember the 22nd anniversary of the Murrah bombing and the 168 lives lost as a result.

Oklahoma City is set to host 17th annual Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon event April 30. The Memorial Marathon hosts 24,000 runners, including 518 Oklahoma Christian students, faculty and alumni. Sixty-five of the 518 individuals participating in the Memorial Marathon, as a part of TeamOC, are current students.

Senior Cole Battles said he is running his first marathon alongside his brothers after not being able to train for the marathon with them last year due to a sports injury. Battles said the preparation for the Memorial Marathon has been both stressful and rewarding for him.

“We have long distance runs on the weekends,” Battles said. “It requires setting aside three hours to run and then another couple hours afterward to figure out how to walk again because our legs don’t work anymore.”

Sophomore Bethany Neece said she was motivated by the peer pressure of her sister and sister-in-law to participate in the Memorial Marathon.

“We thought it would be fun to do together,” Neece said. “We’re keeping each other accountable and motivated, especially during the long runs of our training. It will be great to experience it together.”

Neece, who will be participating in her second half marathon, said it is challenging to train as a group with finals around the corner.

“It can be good and bad to train with other people,” Neece said. “Especially around this time of year when school starts hitting really hard. We are trying to motivate each other when one of us isn’t feeling up to it, but if we’re all feeling overwhelmed it becomes easier to skip the run and say we’ll wait until tomorrow instead.”

Senior Abby Davis said she is participating in her third half marathon because she is supportive of what the money raised through the Memorial Marathon goes toward.

“I participate because I like to run and it gives me a good goal to work toward,” Davis said. “Thirteen miles is not too far or too short, it’s a good challenge and it goes to a good cause.”

Oklahoma Christian’s fitness and wellness organization, TeamOC, aides in making participation in the marathon easier for students, alumni, faculty and staff.

TeamOC raises funds to provide a discounted price for the marathon registration price to students, faculty and staff. TeamOC also created events, such as the Choose Your K and other races, to help those preparing for the marathon feel prepared.

TeamOC picks up the race packets for those signed up for the marathon, saving Oklahoma Christian runners the hassle of driving Downtown to pick them up. They also provide a pasta lunch the day before the Memorial Marathon for participants and their families on campus.

Davis said, as an Oklahoman, she is proud to run in this race because of how the Oklahoma community comes together to support people remembering their loved ones.

“Growing up in Oklahoma, I remember having days in school where we would stop everything and talk about what happened with the Murrah bombing,” Battles said. “It’s nice to be a part of something honoring those lives and having a good impact on the Oklahoma community despite the sadness of remembering it.”

The Memorial Marathon day kicks off at 5:30 a.m. with a sunrise service at the Survivor Tree, followed by 168 seconds of silence for each individual lost in the bombing. The marathon and half marathon races begins at 6:30 a.m. at the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum in Downtown Oklahoma City, with the marathon ending in Automobile Alley.

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