Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon journal: Erik and Stephen Heine complete race together
Stephen Heine had the wind in his face, a sign of a great day.
Heine, 11, sat in his specialized chair as his father, Erik, pushed while running Sunday morning during the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. Stephen high-fived others and smiled.
“He loves races,” Erik said after finishing the half marathon in 1:35:32. “He sits back and takes it all in.”
On a day where thousands ran on their own, the Heines completed their first half marathon together.
Stephen was born with Rubenstein-Taybi syndrome, a genetic condition characterized by short stature, moderate to severe intellectual disability and distinctive physical features.
He cannot talk, so he communicates with his iPad. He is confined to a specially made wheelchair for races.
Erik, a professor of music theory at Oklahoma City University who recently completed the Boston Marathon, has pushed Stephen in other races for more than three years now. Stephen doesn't enjoy the constant laps around the neighborhood to train, but he lives for the races.
“He's a lot of why I run because he wants to do it,” Erik said. “When he goes back to school on Monday, he gets to say he ran a race with his dad. He's just like any typical kid.”
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As important as the race was for them, they also had other things on their mind.
Erik said they raced for two reasons: to promote inclusion in races and to raise money for Ride to Give, the charity that last year raised money for the purchase of Stephen's chair. Now, they're working to help an 18-month-old who is disabled.
“Today is a special day,” Erik said.
A marathon proposal
Tyler Grimes isn't much for running, but he knew that was the only way his engagement proposal plan would work.
Grimes, of Newcastle, entered the 5K about a month ago to finish ahead of girlfriend Tara Lewis, who was entering the half marathon.
Sunday, Grimes stood just past the finish line waiting. He got on his knee and proposed on live television.
A tired and surprised Lewis said yes.
“I knew she wasn't going to be expecting it,” Grimes said. “They tried kicking me out a few times.”
Grimes had finished the 5K in just more than 34 minutes and waited an hour for Lewis to finish. But that wasn't easy. Workers attempted to push Grimes to the tents a block away from the finish line until he alerted them of his plans.
He was then ushered to the finish line.
“Pretty shocked,” Lewis said after showing off her new engagement ring to friends nearby.
•Elizabeth Hadden of Oklahoma City was also surprised after finishing her first 5K. After crossing the finish line, Jay Kuykendall was waiting with a ring and a marriage proposal. She said yes, too.
Heat plays a factor
Rapidly warming temperatures and humidity created problems for some runners Sunday.
EMSA responded to 44 calls for assistance during the marathon, with 32 of those being related to heat, paramedic Heather Yazdanipour said. Temperatures were in the 60s at the start of the race and rose into the 70s by mid-morning. By late morning, the wind had also started gusting over 20 mph.
“Humidity plays a huge role for us,” Yazdanipour said. “It was high at the beginning of the race and stayed that way. Anytime it's over 40 or 45 percent you can't evaporate the sweat, so you end up with this sheen all over your body that retains heat. But we knew that it would be that way and we were prepared for it.”
Of that total, 19 were taken to the medical tent for treatment and one runner was transported to Baptist Hospital for treatment of a heat-related ailment.
“You have all different types of training patterns with runners,” Yazdanipour said. “You have seasoned runners and then those who are participating in their first half or full marathon. We saw people who were elite runners who had problems, and inexperienced runners who had problems. It ran the gamut.”
During last year's race, EMSA responded to just 10 calls for assistance, and two runners were transported to a hospital. Highs for race day in 2017 were in the low 50s.
5K winner a last-minute race addition
Jackson Southers came to Oklahoma City with no plans.
He's leaving with the 5K men's trophy.
The 17-year-old from Dallas drove up with his dad and sister because they were both running the half-marathon.
He saw that registration for the 5K was still open and it channeled his inner-Russell Westbrook.
“I just said ‘Why not,'” Southers said. “It was fun and I didn't expect to win, but once we got started my adrenaline just got going.”
Southers finished with a time of 19 minutes and 58 seconds.
On the women's side, Deer Creek High School senior Jessica Cain took first with a time of 24:29.
Cain, a senior, ran cross country for the Antlers and is preparing for the upcoming state track meet.
Cain has run for the past four years, but this was her first win.
“This feels amazing,” Cain said. “Everybody is so supportive, and I love doing it because we are doing it in remembrance.”
Half marathon winners both go back to back
Amanda Goetschius gave a big fist pump as she broke through the finish line tape.
With a time of 1 hour and 19 minutes, Goetschius went back to back as the winner of the half marathon.
Goetschius said she wasn't sure a repeat would happen. She had some friends competing that she thought could bump her off the winner's podium.
“I didn't know if it was going to be possible,” Goetschius said. “It's awesome to come back and win it again.”
A New Jersey native, Goetschius ran track and cross country for the University of North Carolina-Charlotte before moving to Norman.
Goetschius said she's fallen in love with the spirit behind the marathon.
“This race is the best by far,” Goetschius said. “It's a great race and great cause, and we run as hard as we can for the people that lost their lives that day.”
Men's half marathon winner Max McNeill also went back to back, finishing with a time of 1:11:09.
A sophomore at Oklahoma City University, McNeill said he was using the race to qualify for the NAIA Championships next month.
“My coach was a little weary of me running it this year,” McNeill said. “I've actually been better running shorter distances, but I said, ‘C'mon, coach.'
“I've never experienced anything like this race, it's amazing.”
Hand cyclist Lewis wins again
Hand cyclist Ken Lewis of Ada won the half-marathon for the second time.
Stricken with polio at age 5, Lewis needs braces and crutches to walk. He can't move fast and must move carefully on crutches.
Racing in a hand cycle is "such an exhilarating feeling of freedom," he said. "It's just a freedom I can't explain."
Because there are few safe places to ride near Ada, Lewis travels to Oklahoma City once or twice a week to put in 30 or 40 miles on the Lake Hefner trail. The fastest he has ever gone in the hand cycle is 42 mph.
By the numbers
24,667: Number of participants in this year's Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon
55: Percentage of participants who were women
3,500: Number of volunteers working the event
20,000: Number of bananas provided to runners after the race
2:33:44: Time of men's winner Nathan Chamer
2:54:52: Time of women's winner Kristen Radcliff
JACOB UNRUH, MATT PATTERSON, ADAM KEMP AND ED GODFREY, STAFF WRITERS
Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more... Read more ›
Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun.... Read more ›
Jacob Unruh is a graduate of Northeastern State University. He was born in Cherokee and raised near Vera where he attended Caney Valley High School.During his tenure at NSU, Unruh wrote for The Northeastern (NSU's student newspaper), the... Read more ›
Adam Kemp is a news and health reporter for The Oklahoman. He grew up in Oklahoma City before attending Oklahoma State University. Read more ›