Changes to marathon courses are rare, and when they happen, they are usually small.
Oklahoma City is going big.
Major portions of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon course are being altered this year. Two weeks away from Marathon Day, runners and spectators alike need to know that many familiar stretches will remain, including Gorilla Hill, the State Capitol and Classen Boulevard. But the course will also go places it has never been before, including a southward shift.
Goodbye, Lake Hefner. Hello, Oklahoma River.
“We’ve gotten some pushback about why we’re changing, why we’re doing this,” Oklahoma City Memorial executive director Kari Watkins said. “The city is changing, so we’re trying to go with it.”
A major part of the city’s change is the development of Scissortail Park, sandwiched between downtown and the river. That vast green space is where the Memorial Marathon wants to eventually finish — Watkins added the race had outgrown its traditional finish in Automobile Alley — and moving the finish line half a mile or so to the southwest meant the course had to change.
With the park set for completion next year, the Memorial Marathon’s 20th anniversary, marathon organizers see this year as a transitional phase.
“I want to be clear — it will not be perfect,” Watkins said. “We don’t want anyone to feel like they’re guinea pigs, but we are dealing with a city that is changing and we’re trying to adapt and change with it.”