OKC Memorial Marathon: Top finishes are norm for these training partners
They have no group name.
No matching shirts or secret handshakes, either.
And yet, Oklahoma City-area distance runners Kristen Radcliff, Catherine Lisle, Kristi Coleman and Ashley Carreon are definitely a team. While none of the thirtysomethings are professional runners, all are highly accomplished. They train together, strategize together, worry together, laugh together.
In a week, they'll run the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon together.
"I just want everyone to have their best day," Radcliff said. "At this point in my life, I'm competitive ... but I've got a lot of other things going on. You just hope you have a good day and your training partners have a good day."
A good day by any of the women in this group could be a winning day.
In a year Memorial Marathon organizers believe the field for the women's race is as strong as ever, there are nearly half a dozen known contenders in the race. Tulsa-area runner Stephanie Andre tops the list — she has qualified for the U.S. Olympic trials in the marathon — but everyone should keep an eye on a couple past winners.
Radcliff is the reigning champion while Lisle has won this race more than any other runner, breaking the tape four times.
"Most people that I talk to, especially women, do not have people to train with," Lisle said. "It's such a blessing. I definitely don't take it for granted, and I know they don't either."
These four runners came together a few years ago thanks to Lisle's husband, Stu. He is a distance runner, too — he finished Boston earlier this week — and after starting a new job, he met Radcliff. They started talking about running, and as soon as he got home, he told his wife about Radcliff.
"Pretty much told me ... I needed to be running with her," Lisle said, laughing.
Lisle and Radcliff soon got together, and both brought a friend. Coleman had been running with Lisle, and Carreon had been running with Radcliff, but right away, the four women realized they all wanted to train together.
It's not always easy.
There are careers and kids and obligations that have to be juggled along with training runs that can stretch beyond 20 miles and last several hours. But the women have made it work.
They say their individual support networks have been critical.
Lisle's father-in-law, for example, once came to the house at 5 a.m. so that she could go on a training run. Her husband had an obligation, and someone had to be there when the kids woke up.
None of the women take such help for granted.
But they also don't take their training group for granted either. Each knows the other three women are counting on them to be there, and even though there might be early mornings or bad conditions or aching muscles, they are committed to get in the miles.
"I'm just so thankful and appreciative ... they're so accountable and so encouraging," Radcliff said. "It's hard to push yourself post-college when you don't have training partners."
Their results have been spectacular.
In addition to the marathon wins by Radcliff and Lisle, Carreon and Coleman have been forces in the half marathon at the Memorial Marathon. Coleman finished second in the half two years ago and was just out of the top 10 last year. Carreon is a two-time winner of the half.
She will be running the half again this year.
The other three women in the training group are doing the full marathon, and if their results in the Oklahoma City Go Girl Run half marathon earlier this spring is any indication, look out. Lisle won the Go Girl, followed 30 seconds later by Coleman, followed 49 seconds later by Radcliff.
At the very least, the women plan to stay together as long as they can during the Memorial Marathon.
"We think we can hang together until about Mile 20," Radcliff said, "then we don't really know what's going to happen."
Lisle said, "It's exciting to know that we have people that know what pace we want to go."
What that ultimately means in the Memorial Marathon is anyone's guess. So much can happen, after all, when you're running 26.2 miles. Someone might get a cramp and fall back. Someone might be feeling great and want to push.
But no matter what happens, Lisle, Radcliff, Coleman and Carreon want the best not only for themselves but also for their friends in training.
"We're not getting up at 4:15 to just jog a few miles," Radcliff said. "If we're gonna go, we're gonna go and everyone's gonna put out their best effort on that day."
Squad goals, for sure.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 405-475-4125 or email@example.com. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.
OKLAHOMA CITY MEMORIAL MARATHON
When: 6:30 a.m., April 28
Where: Downtown Oklahoma City
Extended weather forecast: Clearing, high in the 80s.
To register: OKCMarathon.com
To volunteer: OKCMarathon.com/volunteer
Here's a look at the runners who won the major races during the 2018 Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon:
Men’s marathon: Nathan Chamer, Oklahoma City, 2:33:45
Chamer ran his first marathon a year ago in OKC. Won his first, too. The Kenyan native who is an intensive care unit nurse leapt over the finish-line tape.
Women’s marathon: Kristen Radcliff, Oklahoma City, 2:54:52
Radcliffe finished as runner-up to her friend Cat Lisle in 2017, but last year, the former standout at Forgan High and Oral Roberts University triumphed.
Men’s half marathon: Max McNeill, Oklahoma City, 1:11:09
Then a sophomore at Oklahoma City University, McNeill won the race for the second consecutive year. He used it to qualify for the NAIA Championships.
Women’s half marathon: Amanda Goetschius, Norman, 1:19:04
Also a back-to-back winner in the event, Goetschius beat out several running friends who she expected to bump her off the podium. She won by nearly 10 minutes.
Do you have a marathon story?
The Oklahoman is looking for stories of people involved in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. Doesn’t matter what distance you are running. You don’t even have to be a runner. If you’re involved in the marathon and have an interesting story — or know someone who does — we want to hear from you. Email Jenni Carlson at firstname.lastname@example.org.