Pounding the pavement 

Darlene Spry is among the thousands of runners who will hit the streets Sunday for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.

For her, the race holds special meaning.

On the morning of April 19, 1995, Spry’s mother and son were expected to be at the Social Security office of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. By a stroke of luck, her mom canceled the appointment at the last minute.

But Spry wasn’t aware of that when TV news reported that a bomb had ripped through the building.

“I was terrified,” said the Midwest City woman. “I was grateful they did not go that morning. So the run means something to me. It’s good to give back something and to show hope.”

Honoring the 168 people who died in the bombing, the 12th annual marathon is the largest fundraiser for the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. While it offers a full marathon race of 26.2 miles, a half marathon, a memorial 5K, a five-man relay and a children’s marathon, the event remains unique.

“This marathon honors those who died and the courage of a city,” said Kari Watkins, the museum’s executive director. “It’s not just about running. It combines the emotions of a tragedy, but the pride of a city overcoming that tragedy.”

More than 26,000 runners are expected to participate this year, top ping the estimated 25,000 who ran last year.

“This race has a strong mission,” Watkins said. “The race course winds through the city, so all the runners will be able to see the changes happening in our city.”

A health and fitness expo precedes race day at noon Friday at the Cox Convention Center, 1 Myriad Gardens, and will continue through Saturday, when participants can attend the Memorial Marathon pasta dinner.

More than 2,000 plates of pasta will be served.

“It’s a big party and a big race,” Watkins said. “It’s a great atmosphere to celebrate life.”

For Spry, each mile reminds her of what was lost and how lucky she is.

“It’s a great marathon, and you meet people from all over,” Spry said. “It’s a very well-run race and very uplifting.”

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