The Associated Press
The Associated Press
OKLAHOMA CITY — Michael Smith was waiting near the finish line of the Boston Marathon when the bombs exploded and stopped his wife from completing the race.
On Sunday, Chau Smith will get a chance to finish what she started April 15 when she competes in this weekend’s 13th annual Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. This time, her husband, who was not injured in the Boston bombing, will jog alongside her.
“It just seemed right,” he said. “I’ve been training for a marathon. I just haven’t found one.”
The Smiths, of Oak Grove, Mo., are among several signed up for Sunday’s Oklahoma City marathon who did not complete the Boston course. The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, sponsor of the Memorial Marathon, waived the $150 registration fee for them.
“It’s really exciting to have someone say run the whole thing,” said Cari Yerkes of Milwaukee. Yerkes, who will run Oklahoma City full 26.2-mile course with her husband, Rick, said the sport is largely an individual effort, but offers like the Memorial Marathon’s waived fee demonstrate the strong bond between runners.
“It really shows how close a running community can be,” she said.
The Memorial Marathon, a qualifying race for the Boston Marathon, winds through Oklahoma City and surrounding communities. It takes in about $1 million a year to support programs dedicated to the memory of the 168 victims of the April 19, 1995, bombing of the Murrah Building.
and to offer lessons about the impact of violence.
Chet Collier, the race director, said organizers are delighted that Boston marathoners will compete in Oklahoma City.
“We love it. We’re privileged to have them come,” Collier said. “Boston is the highest achievement in a marathoner’s career.”
About 23,000 runners participated in the Boston Marathon and nearly two-thirds had crossed the finish line when two bombs exploded, killing three people and injuring more than 200. Thousands of runners were still on the course and couldn’t finish the race.
Michael Smith said he was walking toward the finish line to cheer for his wife when the first bomb went off.
“And everybody kind of stopped and looked at each other like, ‘What was that?”’ he said. About 15 seconds later, a second bomb went off about 150 yards away.
“Then I became concerned,” he said. Smith said police stopped him from moving any closer, and he had no idea what had happened to his wife until she texted that she was unharmed.
“That was a big relief,” he said.
Cari Yerkes said she had completed 25.9 miles of the 26.2-mile race when she and other runners were forced to stop.
“We were pretty close. We were right around the corner,” she said. “We just ran into a crowd of people.”
Yerkes said she is not concerned for her safety during the Memorial Marathon.
“I think one of the safest places to be this weekend is going to be Oklahoma City,” she said.
Oklahoma City Police Capt. Dexter Nelson said law enforcement officers from several local agencies will join off-duty officers who ordinarily provide security for the Memorial Marathon at this year’s race, which is expected to attract 23,000 runners.
“It’s going to be a much larger security force,” Nelson said. “They will be more visible this time.”
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