We’re about a month away from Tulsa’s — and Oklahoma’s — oldest running road race, the Tulsa Run.
There was a day when marathons weren’t run in Oklahoma. That was awhile ago, but before there was the Route 66 Marathon or the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon (and a bevy of smaller 26.2 milers), the Tulsa Run was the granddaddy of running events in the Sooner state.
In many ways, it still is. Anywhere from 9,000 to 10,000 people will run this one, making it one of the biggest. But there are a few new wrinkles to this year’s Oct. 26 event.
Competitive juice: This race has always drawn big-time competitors in the distance running game. Faster runners have been able to nail its 15K distance in 45 minutes or so, which absolutely floors me.
But they’ll be joined by other serious competitors. This year, and for four more years after that, the Tulsa Run is going to be the event to decide the USA Track and Field 15K Masters Championships. Those over-40 runners can fly, and the best of them will be competing in this race. So expect to see more elite-level runners than normal in this year’s event.
Change of venue: The course will stay the same, but the expo and packet pickup will be different. Last year it was at the downtown Hyatt, which is a fine hotel with good exhibit space. But that space was far too small for the crush of people who showed up from in town and out of town to pick up their packets and shop for race gear.
This time, it’s going to be at downtown Tulsa’s Cox Business Center, formerly called the Tulsa Convention Center, at 6th and Houston. This venue was also home to the Route 66 Marathon’s expo and was more than roomy enough for the job. Expect quicker lines and less cramped conditions than last year.
About the course: OK, it’s the same course as last year, an out-and-back, which means it’s a pretty fast track. I’ve attached a map so you can see it.
Having run it last year, here’s what I can tell you:
You’ll be off to a fast start. It starts downhill at Boulder Avenue downtown, where it will eventually find its way to a flat straightaway down Riverside Drive. The turnaround is just south of the Interstate 44 bridge at 54th Street.
The part that gives some people trouble is the climb back into downtown starting at 21st Street and Riverside Drive. Thankfully, the route goes uphill to Boston Avenue, then continues a relatively mild incline all the way to the finish line. Trust me, you’d rather take Boston north to finish than the other north-south streets leading back into downtown. Still, you’re going to face about two miles of steady uphill running as you finish. So be ready for that.
Other races: For folks not wanting to commit to the 15K, there is also a good 5K race and a 2K fun run. Both of these races will be mostly contained to downtown, though the 5K will make a quick visit to Riverside Drive and turn around at the halfway point on the 23rd Street bridge across the Arkansas River. Like the 15K, 5K runners will face that same steady climb back into downtown to finish.
Additionally, there are 5K and 15K wheelchair races and a 15K racewalking event. They will follow the 5K and 15K courses.
After party: Stick around for the Finish Line Fest north of the finish line downtown. There will be live music, a tailgating party and other bits of fun going on.
Speaking of live music, expect to see bands and singers performing at various spots along the entire course, which I think is a pretty cool aspect of this event.
Registration deadline change: Unlike past races, they’re closing registration two weeks before the event. The deadline is Oct. 12.
Want to learn more? Check out the Tulsa Run’s website here.
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