In northeastern Oklahoma, fall racing season really kicks off with the Tulsa Run, a 15K event that’s been happening here since 1978. For many years, this was the premier endurance road race in Oklahoma until the local running scene began putting together big-race marathons.
Still, an estimated 9,000 people will end up running on Saturday. I’ve run it for the past three years, and it’s always been a challenge and a pleasure.
Last year, there was a change in the course route. The city is going through a major park development project on Riverside Drive between 21st Street and 35th Place. Much of the road is being rebuilt, which means a significant portion of the race’s traditional course is torn up. So the flatter out-and-back format of years past is history this time.
Here’s a map of the 15K course:
The course is a loop. I’ll make this short and sweet: As much as people groan about the uphill stretch up Boston Avenue at the end of the race, they can expect more of that in this year’s event. Utica Avenue, 21st Street and 15th Street — prominent stretches in this year’s run — are pretty hilly.
Also, the return trip to downtown also has a beefy uphill stretch from Riverside, and then the last piece north on Boston Avenue.
The good news: From an aesthetic point of view, this course is a gem. Running on the River Parks trails alongside Riverside Drive is scenic. Running on Riverside Drive, however, is not. But crossing the Arkansas River (twice) and going through Cherry Street and Brookside makes for a more interesting run, and possibly better in terms of spectator support.
I like the course, and aside from the added difficulty the course presents, I think most runners will, too. An added bonus: If you’re also training for November’s Route 66 Marathon or half marathon, the Tulsa Run course will give you a nice sneak peek of what to expect.
There is also a 5K race, and like the 15K, it does not avoid the hills. It embraces them, particularly along 15th Street.
Last year, most people’s times were slower than previous years, and I think the increased hilliness of the course had a lot to do with it.
That said, the challenge is part of the fun. The forecast calls for good temperatures (likely in the mid- to upper 50s at race time), but there is a chance of rain.
We’ll see you out there!