The memorial was built in honor of the 168 men, women, and children who were killed in the Alfred P Murrah building bombing on April 19, 1995. You enter the memorial through the 9:01 gate.
On one side are 168 chairs. 1 chair for each individual who lost their life that day. The smaller chairs represent the children. There were race bibs and medals tied to and left on some of the chairs.
This was my first visit to the national memorial. It is truly beautiful and thought provoking. It was difficult to pass through it without feeling a swell of emotion.
On the outside of the 9:03 gate are pieces of the chain link fence that was used to fence off the disaster site back in 1995. It became a makeshift memorial with people leaving stuffed animals, flowers, etc in memory of the victims. If you look closely, you can see current race bibs that people left as recently as Sunday.
As an Oklahoman, since that fateful day 18 years ago, I have become very familiar with the resiliency of the human spirit. I was reminded of that again recently with the Boston Marathon bombing. I think this race is a shining example of good triumphing over evil.
If you've ever thought about running this race, I highly recommend it! The pros: The volunteers and supporters. There are 22+ water stops on this 26 mile course. I've never seen so much course support! So many people were out that morning thanking the runners for remembering and running. It was very humbling!! And it just goes to show how much the community supports this run. The course is beautiful!
There were a few minor things that I think could be tweaked a little bit, however. This race has gotten so big that I think it is time to implement a wave start. It took over 20 minutes for the marathoners and half-marathoners to cross the start line. I noticed that the slower runners and the walkers who line up in the back had to weave around 5 k runners who were beginning to make their way to the corral for the start of their 7am run. This could be managed a little bit better, in my opinion. And there was a little congestion/confusion at my relay exchange. The shuttle buses had to drive through the staging area which seemed a little dangerous to me.
The finish line was crowded and chaotic but the post race refreshments and support was abundant.
Frankly, it was refreshing to see the crowds at the finish line. :-)
It was truly a RUN TO REMEMBER!