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It took a pandemic for cyclists to get this race. Now they hope OKC Memorial Marathon keeps it in the future

Precia and Greg Barrett celebrate after biking more than 26 miles around Lake Hefner for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon last Sunday. [PHOTO PROVIDED]
Precia and Greg Barrett celebrate after biking more than 26 miles around Lake Hefner for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon last Sunday. [PHOTO PROVIDED]

Greg and Precia Barrett of Oklahoma City are former runners.

Precia, 49, ran a full marathon in Nashville and Greg, 51, competed in triathlons, both before the age of 40. They both have run the half-marathon in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon and participated in the relay portion of the race on multiple occasions, as well, but it had been a decade since they were involved in the event.

"As you get older in life, sometimes your knees can't keep up with that sort of stuff," Precia said.

But when the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon added cycling to its virtual race this year, the Barretts saw an opportunity to be part of the Memorial Marathon again.

"Here was our chance to help support the Memorial and it (cycling) is something we have kind of come to love over the last six months," Precia said.

When COVID-19 hit the Oklahoma City community in March, the Barretts started walking around Lake Hefner for exercise. When it got too hot to walk in the summer, they dusted off their old road bikes and started cycling again.

They would ride once or twice around Lake Hefner each weekend for exercise, and last Sunday added a third loop to ride 26-plus miles to complete the virtual full marathon on the bikes.

Several runners were on the Lake Hefner trail as well last Sunday, the day the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon was originally scheduled before becoming a virtual event because of COVID-19. Runners and cyclists still have through Oct. 18 to finish their virtual race, but many selected Oct. 4 as their day to participate.

Precia said riding at Lake Hefner on Sunday had the feeling of being in the Memorial Marathon.

"There were a lot of people running and walking," she said. "There were people who had water stations. There were people cheering the runners on for sure. It definitely didn't feel we were out there by ourselves. We would cheer people as we rode by and they would cheer us. It made it fun."

Cyclists have long clamored to be included in the Memorial Marathon, but when it was announced that cycling would be added to the virtual race, officials said it would only be for this year.

More than 500 cyclists entered this year's Memorial Marathon and race officials say now they will consider including cycling in the future.

"We will look at how or if we can add it into the traditional marathon weekend," said Kari Watkins, race director for the Memorial Marathon.

The Barretts said they would like to see cycling added and would participate again if it becomes a permanent part of the event.

On Sunday, after they had finished riding their bikes the distance of a marathon, their son presented them with their medals at Lake Hefner.

"We kind of had our own little ceremony," Precia said. "I would like to do it the normal way, hopefully sometime."

Ed Godfrey

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 ›

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