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Coronavirus in Oklahoma: Norman runners make lemonade out of no-Boston-Marathon lemons

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Christie Thomas and Carlee Daub regularly rise before the sun.

Distance runners tend to do that.

But they were really looking forward to their early wake-up call Friday. Instead of logging pre-dawn miles, they were going to head to the Oklahoma City airport and leave for a long-anticipated trip.

Destination: Boston.

They planned to run the Boston Marathon.

“Looking forward to just an amazing weekend,” Thomas said. “And then COVID struck.”

Like everything in our sports world, the Boston Marathon was put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is the granddaddy of all American road races, and even though it has been rescheduled for the fall, thousands of runners are disappointed they won’t be running through the streets of Beantown on Monday.

Count Thomas and Daub among the bummed.

“We’ve been quick to acknowledge we get it,” Thomas said of the postponement. “We understand and realize there are bigger disappointments. But at the same time, we’re allowing ourselves to feel that disappointment.

“It’s tough to be in that good a shape and have worked that hard to say, ‘Let’s put on the brakes now.’”

They ultimately decided to turn disappointment into opportunity, to turn lemons into lemonade.

But for a while, they let themselves be sad. 

“In my opinion,” Thomas said, “if you weren’t disappointed, you weren’t training hard enough.”

Thomas and Daub weren’t just training hard -- they were looking forward to running Boston together for the first time. 

Thomas and Daub are both married with husbands and children and busy lives, but both are into running. Living in Norman, they got to know each other through that running passion. Ultimately, they started WAHOO! RUNNING, which provides runners with guidance on all aspects of running. Strength. Nutrition. Training. Recovery.

Many of their clients are local, but because much of their work is done online, there are WAHOO! runners across the country.

Last year, a dozen of them met in Washington to run  Jack and Jill’s Downhill Marathon, a race lots of runners use to get a qualifying time for Boston. All 12 runners hit their qualifying mark for the 2020 Boston Marathon.

The group planned to re-assemble Friday in Boston, spend the weekend enjoying the city, then go out and run some fast times Monday.

And when the race is run on its rescheduled date, Sept. 14, they plan to be there. But what about the months of training Thomas and Daub and so many others did this winter before Boston was postponed? 

Same goes for people planning to do the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, pushed back from April 19 until Oct. 4.

Thomas and Daub decided to take those lemons and make some lemonade.

The Lemonade Marathon was born.

The Lemonade Marathon is a free virtual event created by Thomas and Daub. It has multiple days and multiple distances starting Friday with a 5K. Over the weekend, the options expand to include a 10K, a half marathon and a full marathon.

“We want to give people a place to land,” Thomas said. “Some people probably still want to go full force. We have an athlete who was scheduled to run OKC, and he’s continued on with his training and is just determined to still run as well as he would have run if he ran OKC.”

Still, Thomas and Daub hope the various distances open a door not only to serious runners dealing with spring races cancellations but also to people who might be looking for motivation.

“The ultimate goal is this … is to get people moving,” Thomas said. “We really embrace the fact that movement is medicine, and the more people we can get out moving and inspire them to be a part of something, the better.”

Thomas and Daub believe inspiration is happening. 

They have asked people to sign up for the Lemonade Marathon by joining the WAHOO! RUNNING club on Strava, an app that tracks physical activity. Before they announced the Lemonade Marathon, they had a couple dozen members. Now, the total is over 500.

Ditto for the number of people signed up for the virtual races.

“It’s just super cool,” Daub said. “One thing that has come out of this quarantine is I’ve just loved all the families that I see out and about walking and running. … It’s been cool to see. I love how many people have gotten excited about it.”

Thomas and Daub plan to run every day, increasing the distances as they go.

Friday, 5K.

Saturday, 10K.

Sunday, half marathon.

Monday, full marathon.

Their Monday marathon won’t be where they planned. They’ll be running the streets of Norman instead of the streets of Boston, but they feel like they’ve made the best of the situation. 

“I think there will be some cool stories that come out of it,” Daub said. “Christie and I love telling people’s stories … so that’ll be fun.”

Plus, they’ll have their own story to tell, a story about how their big race got postponed, how they figured out a way to keep running and how they found a way to virtually have others running right along with them.



WAHOO! RUNNING in Norman created the Lemonade Marathon, a virtual series of races this weekend. The races start Friday with a 5K but expand over the next three days to include a 5K, a 10K, a half marathon and a full marathon.

Want to run?

Here's how:

1. Download the Strava app and create an account on a GPS device or smartphone.

2. Join WAHOO! RUNNING under the "CLUBS" tab.

3. Chose your races in the WAHOO! club area.

4. Run your distance on the day you sign up. Do so with a GPS-equipped device such as a Garmin or smartphone with the Strava app. It will record your distance and time for the race.

Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›