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The Williams Route 66 Marathon, held every November in Tulsa, has grown to more than 8,000 participants since its inaugural year in 2006. Photo courtesy of the Williams Route 66 Marathon


is quickly becoming a common bond many people share, and the sport continues to grow. “If you get hooked up with the right training group it is something that pretty much anybody can do, if they’re willing to commit to the program,” Lieber- man said. “I’ve never talked to anybody who said they wished they hadn’t competed in a race.” Norman resident Patti Rogers also follows that “no regrets” policy on running. As an Oklahoma Electric Cooperative employee, a wife and a mother, she uses running to stay in shape, manage stress and connect with friends.


“For me, it’s defi nitely a lifestyle,” she said. “I don’t


want to quit running because I love it. I have a friend who ran when she was younger and now that she’s older, she’s always telling me ‘don’t quit.’” Rogers said she had never been a regular runner but when her children grew up and moved out of the house a few years ago, she had more free time to hit the gym and try a couple of local 5K races. When a close friend decided to sign up for a marathon, Rog- ers volunteered to train with her but vowed to never run in competition.


“Famous last words, I guess,” she said. “I didn’t set out to do it but it’s a great feeling knowing that if you put your mind to something, you can do any- thing you desire.”


Since 2007, Rogers has run seven full marathons, including the Boston Marathon, and her interest in the sport has even led to a fun part-time job. Ten hours a week, she now works at the running shoe and apparel store, OK Runner in Norman, where she net- works with other runners and learns more about her local running community.


running schedule.”


“The process of training for and competing in your fi rst race makes you stronger, healthier and more confi dent. Who wouldn’t want that?”


—Chris Lieberman, executive director of the Williams Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa


“It’s just fun to go out and run in different groups,” Rogers said. “I think people sometimes feel intimi- dated, like they can’t keep up with elite runners but not everybody is an elite runner.”


Most days before dawn, Rogers is up and out the


door to meet a group of running friends. Not all of them are serious marathon runners but they feel it’s important to make time for the early morning ritual. “When we run, we talk about life, our kids and what’s going on—it’s girl time,” she said. “Plus, there’s no doubt I manage stress better when sticking to a


From the residential streets of Norman to the dusty Middle Eastern desert, running is a pastime for many Oklahomans. Central Rural Electric Cooperative- member Justin Whitmore discovered running while working for the United States Department of Agri- culture on a military base in Iraq. In 2009, Whitmore began working out at the base’s gym and running in a couple of 5Ks.


“I thought it was a nice way to lose weight,” he said. “I wasn’t interested in running a marathon but I’m kind of competitive so I had fun running the 5Ks and trying to improve my time.”


As Whitmore neared the completion of his work in Iraq, he started running with a friend who had decided to train for a marathon. Like Eggleston and Rogers, peer pressure got the best of him and he too began to prepare for the 26.2-mile race. In November 2010, Whitmore ran Tulsa’s Williams Route 66 Mara- thon and discovered just how much he enjoyed the thrill of competition. “I ran too fast in the beginning but went ahead and pushed through to the end,” he said. “When I got done, I knew I could do a lot better than that.” Whitmore’s recent participation in the Oklahoma


City Memorial Marathon was his third fi nish and now, he already has his sights set on running the Williams Route 66 race again this fall. His ultimate goal is to qualify for the 2014 Boston Marathon and he plans to begin training again later this summer. Although his 19-week program can call for up to 50 miles of running per week, Whitmore said he still fi nds the training process relaxing.


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