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Oklahoma-born runners win big at Route 66 Marathon

Al Maeder,
Ben Abrams
Al Maeder, 29, of Oklahoma City, celebrates finishing first in the male division of Tulsa's 2023 Route 66 Half Marathon, setting a new course record in the process.

Runners from across the country and the world took to the streets of Tulsa to race in the city's annual Route 66 Marathon this weekend.

One of the biggest takeaways: all of Sunday's winners were from the Sooner State.

Medals ready to be given out to runners of the Route 66 Marathon on Sunday.
Ben Abrams
Medals ready to be given out to runners of the Route 66 Marathon on Sunday.

"It's gonna hit me all at once," said Steven Baker, 32, of Tulsa, who placed first among the male racers in the full marathon.

Baker set a new course record, finishing at 2:26:47.

"Honestly, the course record wasn’t even on my mind," he said, "just getting under 2:30:00, that's all I could ask for."

Baker said he'd been training for the race since July and hopes to do one of the six major marathons in due time. Tulsa's marathon acts as a qualifying race for Boston's in April.

"I'm gonna eat and just celebrate," he said.

Bonnie Branson of Edmond celebrated her 47th birthday by running the marathon, placing first in the women's division.

"I'm super excited. I didn't expect it," Brandon said.

She wore a baseball cap on her head throughout the race, which she explained was especially meaningful to her.

"I just lost my dad a year ago, so I always wear his hat," she said, "when it hurts, I always think of that."

"This is 47," she said. "Just keep working."

The winners of the half marathon were: Jenny O'Bryan, 25, of Tulsa, and Al Maeder, 29, of Oklahoma City, who set a new course record at 1:08:29.

It wasn't just the big winners who felt accomplished. Many thousands turned out just to exercise.

"I think it just helps with overall mental and physical health," said Alejandra Hernandez, of Texas. Tulsa's race marks her third half marathon.

There were also a wide range of ages on Sunday, from those in their 70s to children.

Organizers say the number of participants has been going up since the easing of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

"We sold out of our half marathon, which is a big deal," said Destiny Green, the event's executive director.

"All of our numbers are up across the board," she said.

Cody Mason, 12, said his motivations for joining in a marathon relay were simple: "I like running and I thought it'd be fun."

Ben Abrams is a news reporter and All Things Considered host for KWGS.
Check out all of Ben's links and contact info here.