Checking out the new course for the Route 66 Marathon

About a month ago, I posted something about the new route for the 2014 Tulsa Run. A huge park and road reconstruction project forced race organizers to make a dramatic change to that race’s course.

So what would that mean for the Route 66 Marathon? Both races have a couple things in common: They both start and end in downtown Tulsa, and they both have traditionally utilized Riverside Drive (the road that is going to see a big closure pretty soon) for a significant portion of their respective courses.

The re-routing of the Tulsa Run was significant. But for Route 66? Not nearly as much. Below is a map of the marathon and half marathon courses for Route 66:


The major change is how the race bypasses the construction area on Riverside. The route goes east a bit to a residential street (Cincinnati Avenue) before going back to Riverside Drive and into downtown. This is the home stretch for the half marathoners, and about 40 percent of the way for the full marathon crew.

The rest of the course is basically the same.


So for those of you running the half and the full, here’s an preview:

Expect a fast start. The race begins downtown, which is at the top of a hill overlooking the Arkansas River. So your run from downtown to midtown will be mostly downhill to flat.

The course gets hilly in midtown. Once you hit 21st Street and into those glorious old midtown neighborhoods, you’re going to be going up and down a series of small hills that will zap you if you’re not properly pacing yourself. It flattens out once you hit Peoria and the Brookside area, and remains that way as you make your next turn.

Bank some time on Riverside and Cincinnati. This part of the course is a good place to set a decent pace before heading back into downtown.

There is a hilly climb back into downtown. This is important to remember if you’re running the half. Make sure you’ve got enough gas in the tank to tackle that uphill climb into downtown. Half marathoners will then take a fast downhill on Denver Avenue before one more uphill stretch that takes your into the Brady Arts District and the finish line.

Marathoners will veer back east and start heading out of downtown again, back toward midtown. The hills return on Peoria and keep going on 21st Street and into the neighborhoods on the eastern portion of the course.

The fun begins as you head north toward the University of Tulsa. There’s nothing steep, but it’s a mostly steady uphill grade until you get there. A circle through campus will then take you to what I consider the crux of the full marathon.

So you know, 15th Street is not kind. Just before Mile 22 (right around the time when the wheels have started to fall off for a lot of runners), you hit the biggest hills of the race on 15th Street. Past Mile 23, you turn back north on Peoria and into downtown.

Once you dogleg into downtown, the course mercifully takes a flat to downhill pitch on First Street. On this stretch, you’ll have the option to take the Center of the Universe detour where you can pick up a prize and add a few tenths of a mile to your race. You can also pick up some suds and listen to a band while you’re there. And then you can call your race a baby ultra, right?

The homestretch puts you back on Denver Avenue, with a downhill pitch under some railroad tracks, then a short, steep incline into the Brady District and then the finish line.

Some things I learned…

Every race for the past three years that I’ve lived here have been cool to cold. Last year, it did not get above 28 degrees. Just watch the forecasts and be ready for a cool- to cold-weather run.

Expect excellent course support. Water/sports drink stops are frequent. Personally, I’d skip bringing your own water.

The course will challenge you. It’s not like you’re climbing giant hills. There are just a lot of them. Be sure you’re training on hills, even a little on your weekend long runs. If you don’t, well, you’ll find out.

While challenging, it’s also pretty awesome. You get two trips into downtown, long stretches through scenic neighborhoods, and a finish in the hippest, coolest place in Tulsa. The finish line party is worth the pain.

We’re less than two months away. Personally, I can’t wait for this one. Route 66 is a special race.

Bob Doucette


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