The Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, A Run to Remember…

by Judi Voeller N5KUO and Leah Ohse W3LEO

The last weekend in April is always reserved for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. This is one of the largest annual events in Oklahoma City to commemorate the event of the OKC Murrah Bombing and serves as the primary fundraiser for the Oklahoma City Memorial Museum.

“The Oklahoma City bombing occurred when a truck packed with explosives was detonated on April 19, 1995, outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, leaving 168 people dead and hundreds more injured. The blast was set off by anti-government militant Timothy McVeigh, who in 2001 was executed for his crimes. His co-conspirator Terry Nichols was sentenced to life in prison. Until September 11, 2001, the Oklahoma City bombing was the worst terrorist attack to take place on U.S. soil.” ( Oklahoma City Bombing)

The primary mission statement of the museum is:
“We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity.” (Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum)

In Oklahoma, the OKC Memorial Marathon is a big deal. This was the first year that I participated in the 5K (as a walker) and I can assure you this is something I will always remember. While the marathon itself is exhilarating (and even exhausting), it’s the early morning programming before the race that speaks to the heart. From the speakers, to the prayers, to the 168 seconds of silence, and the reason why we run…in remembrance. There is no other marathon quite like this which is why it is called “A run to remember.”

With over 25,000 in attendance, whether as a participant, volunteer or emergency services personnel, it’s the behind the scenes actions of the planners and volunteer’s that make the event such a success. Leah, W3LEO, participates as an amateur radio volunteer and has been doing so for 6 years. For this reason, I’d like to highlight some of Leah’s recent Facebook posts and let her tell her story and share her photos.

Let’s start at the beginning. On April 19, 1995 I was living in Choctaw, OK, and was a sophomore in high school when the bombing happened. I was at home (home-schooled) and we thought a jet flew over. Tinker Air Force Base was in the next town, so this was not uncommon. As we learned what happened, we sat and watched the event on tv the whole day. This broke our hearts…so being part of the Memorial Marathon has a special place in my heart. (Leah)

The following are from Leah’s Facebook posts.

On April 19, 2018 (the 23rd anniversary of the OKC Murrah Building Bombing),

Next Sunday I get the privilege to volunteer with Amateur Radio Operators at the Memorial Marathon. We play a vital role insuring the event goes smoothly so our runners who come to support those who were lost, make it through to the finish line.

I will be with the Kids Marathon, lots of fun and lots of chaos. Last year we had over 4,000 in attendance just for the kids race alone!

Wall of the Journal Record Building painted shortly after the bombing. It’s still there.

April 29, 2018 5:41 AM

Good morning from the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon…may today be a great race & no injuries…over 22,000 registered…that’s not including the kids race.


(Photos from The Outdoor Symbolic Memorial)

April 29, 2018 5:23 PM

So tired, but so blessed to be with such a good group of Amateur Radio Operators. This is my 6th year volunteering for the Memorial Marathon & the kids race. Today we had over 3,800…4,000 is the max. I was with Bob, WD4ETW (4 years volunteering with me) & Lester KE5GRY…they are my peeps (lol)!
#runtoremember  #hamradiorocks

Below are some of my photos from the 23rd OKC Memorial Marathon.
Leah Ohse W3LEO



A final thought. After finishing my first 5K and later seeing Leah’s photos, it reminded me of the song from the play “Oklahoma” by Rogers and Hammerstein

Oh what a beautiful morning,
Oh what a beautiful day,
I’ve got a wonderful feeling,
Everything’s going my way.