OKLAHOMA CITY - Olympic gold medalist and running icon Joan Benoit Samuelson battled high winds, led wire to wire and was never challenged as she cruised to victory in 1:21:57 in the Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon Sunday. She has her sites set on breaking the current US Master's Record of 1:19:40 here during next year's 10th Anniversary Oklahoma City Run to Remember.
"I am so happy to win here and redeem myself from my last visit here to Oklahoma City in 2007. When I competed here two years ago, I had a severe plantar fasciitis problem that day, which I worsened by staying on the course and finishing the race." Samuelson continues, "I never DNF'ed (did not finish) a race in my career, and I wasn't going to quit in OKC back then because of the cause for running the race. So, the victory today was nice for me personally, but more so, I am hopefully furthering the event's inspiring message of resilience and hope. The 2010 half-marathon with hopefully have a better weather day for breaking the US record."
OKC Memorial Marathon Executive Director Chet Collier states, "Having Joanie come in and win here is such a wonderful thing for our event, she has been driving the sport of women’s running forever and continues to set the standard for what our sport should be." Collier continues, "We hope she'll come back next year and defend her title."
Rookie marathoners Jordan Kinley and Catherine O’Dell won the marathon Sunday, posting times of 2:27:19 and 3:10:16 respectively. Defending men's half marathon champion Bernard Manirakiza won easily in 1:11:44.
The 9th running of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon was a complete sellout with the total registrant field size of 19,300. The 10th Anniversary of The Run to Remember is set for April 25th, 2010. The event weekend includes marathon, half marathon and marathon relay for runners. The event also includes a Kid's Marathon and an ever-growing 5K Memorial Walk. To learn more about the events, training or volunteering, please contact the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon at 405-525-4242 or at www.okcmarathon.com. And please visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial website at www.oklahomacitynationalmemorial.org.