Tulsa Run participants brave cold for 'bucket-list' race
BY DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer
Sunday, October 28, 2012
10/28/12 at 7:32 AM
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David Garrett of Albuquerque, N.M., has run in races all over the world. On Saturday, he knew that Tulsa was the best place on Earth for a runner to be.
Garrett, 51, said he has run in events in places such as Australia, Japan, Spain and Belgium. This year, he decided to add the Tulsa Run to the list.
"I always heard about the Tulsa Run," Garrett said. "I didn't know it was going to be this cold."
The National Weather Service reported that it was 33 degrees when the 15k run began at 9 a.m., but that didn't seem to bother at least some of the 9,807 participants expected in Saturday's three races.
Kirsten Stukey, 22, was wearing a T-shirt and shorts as she prepared for the starter's gun.
"I'll warm up," the former Union High School cross-country runner predicted.
Chris Whitekiller, 48, of Claremore was clutching a cup of coffee as she got ready to participate in what she estimated to be her eighth or ninth Tulsa Run. Whitekiller said that while knee problems have occasionally kept her from taking part in the event, she was happy to be back in it.
"It's the best race I can think of," Whitekiller said.
Eric Roe, 39, of Coweta said being part of the Tulsa Run was "kind of a bucket list" thing for him.
"It's something I always wanted to do and I decided to do it this year," Roe said.
John Reedy, 55, said he took part in the inaugural 1978 Tulsa Run. On Saturday, he returned after an absence of more than 30 years.
A former cross-country runner at McLain High School in the mid-1970s, Reedy said participating in the Tulsa Run was part of his effort to get back in shape.
Reedy was not alone in that pursuit.
"This is a new chapter in my life," said 58-year-old Sue Payne of Adair. "I'm so excited I could hardly sleep last night."
Payne described her journey as going from "couch potato to 5k." She said that her goal is to take part in the 15k next year.
For some, taking part in the Tulsa Run has become a family tradition.
Susan Grace, 55, of Claremore and her 32-year-old daughter, Laura Grace of Broken Arrow, were wearing powder blue surgical scrubs as they warmed up, and the medical theme was no coincidence. Susan Grace works as an administrator in an eye surgeon's office while Laura Grace is a nurse at St. John Medical Center.
Susan Grace said the doctor for whom she works is an avid runner who inspired her to start participating in the Tulsa Run. This was the third time that mother and daughter have run together.
Anmar Agha, 55, said she has lived in the Tulsa area since the mid-1980s and would watch the highlights of the Tulsa Run on television, not thinking that she would eventually take part.
Yet on Saturday, she participated in the 2k Fun Run while her 35-year-old son, Hadi Agha, ran the 5k.
While the Tulsa Run supplied its usual share of fun, Saturday's event also was a bit melancholy.
Runners paused in silence to remember Jack Wing, who was known as "the voice of the Tulsa Run" for 16 years for his duties as the public announcer at the starting line and the finish. Wing, who also served as the race director for nine years, died last month at the age of 68. The final mile of the course was also dedicated to him.
Wing played a huge role in making the Tulsa Run a fixture on the city's calendar.
"If you're in Tulsa, it's just something that you do," said 41-year-old Kristin King as she prepared to participate in an event she first took part in back in 1996.
King said the first time she signed up for the Tulsa Run, she wasn't far removed from giving birth and thought it was only a 10k. She managed to finish that race and since then has even run a few marathons as well.
Sheldon Waeger, 56, of Tulsa said he has also run various marathons and half-marathons through the years. However, he said the Tulsa Run is special.
"This is my favorite," said Waeger, who said he has taken part in various Tulsa Runs through the years and has the commemorative T-shirts to prove it.
Melissa Roberts of Claremore explained the appeal of the Tulsa Run succinctly.
"It's a challenge. When you cross the finish line, you did something," Roberts said. "You did something more than sit on the couch. Everybody ought to try it at least once."
Original Print Headline: Runners brave cold for 'bucket-list' race
David Harper 918-581-8359
Runners pass the starting line of the 35th annual Tulsa Run on Boulder Avenue in downtown Tulsa on Saturday. It was 33 degrees when the 15k started at 9 a.m. but that didn't seem to bother the estimated 9,800 participants. CHRISTOPHER SMITH / Tulsa World
Sharon Wing (right), widow of longtime run announcer Jack Wing, is comforted by Sherri Brokeshoulder at the 35th annual Tulsa Run. BRETT ROJO / For the Tulsa World
Sheldon Waeger, 56, of Tulsa stretches before the 35th annual Tulsa Run on Saturday. CHRISTOPHER SMITH / Tulsa World
Laura Grace and her mother, Susan Grace, wait for the 5k race to start. CHRISTOPHER SMITH / Tulsa World
Anmar Agha and her son Hadi Agha talk before the 5k race in downtown Tulsa. CHRISTOPHER SMITH / Tulsa World