Since the first OKC Memorial Marathon race back in 2001, athletes from all over the world have participated in the marathon to honor those lost on that April morning nineteen years ago. Tomorrow, five OKC Local 157 members from Station 7 are prepared to not only run the half marathon of 13.1 miles, but do so in full bunker gear as a tribute to those affected by the tragedy that unfolded that day.
Shane Williams, John Ferrell, Tony Davis, Chad Watkins and Owen Wiggins will suit up early tomorrow morning in their fire protection boots, pants, coats, helmet as well as dawn their air packs – a total of more than 50 pounds of gear – and attempt to complete the half marathon. They say the reason they are racing is simple: to honor those they lost that day.
Tony Davis and Shane Williams have been with the OKC Fire Department and members of the Local 157 for more than twenty years and were on duty the morning of April 19, 1995. Shane says he remembers the sounds, smells and sadly some of the sights of that morning. “Even though I didn’t know any of the families directly, I am running tomorrow because I want the families to know I still care about them. Also, and many people don’t know this, but there were three pregnant women who perished that day. I’m also running to remember the three innocent lives that were taken.”
Most of the men have participated in the various marathon races, either running relays, the half or even for one, a full marathon. But this will be the first time any of the men have carried an additional 50-plus pounds of weight with them during a race. They will also be carrying their OKC fire station 7 flag with them to show their station pride.
Although the weather forecast isn’t looking perfect, if you happen to be a spectator at tomorrows race, be sure to cheer these runners on to the finish line!