Route 66 Marathon Training Guide: The starting line

How the Route 66 Marathon began.



Participants line up for the start of the 2009 Williams Route 66 Marathon, which featured a race between elite runners Zac Freudenburg and Michael Wardian. Both runners pushed their sons in strollers the entire 26.2 miles.

Now in its fifth year, the Williams Route 66 Marathon is well on its way to fulfilling the vision of its founder and Tulsa Route 66 Marathon Inc.’s executive director, Chris Lieberman, who presented the idea to a small group of running friends he corralled in summer 2005.

Lieberman experienced firsthand the life-changing impact preparing for and participating in a marathon can have on an individual’s health and well-being, and he wanted to bring that same experience to Tulsans.

“Training for and completing your first marathon or half-marathon makes you stronger, healthier and more confident,” Lieberman says. “After seeing the impact marathons have in other cities, I wanted Tulsa to have a world-class marathon.”

Lieberman called on Trani Matthews, owner of Tulsa Runner, and veteran runner Jack Wing for their help in organizing a marathon in Tulsa. Soon Tim and Lori Dreiling, owners of Fleet Feet Sports Tulsa, joined them and the Route 66 Marathon made its inaugural run Nov. 19, 2006, with the slogan “Let our first marathon be your first marathon.” The event attracted approximately 3,000 participants in marathon, half-marathon and relay-race events.

Since then, the event has averaged 30 percent growth each year and added a quarter-marathon, 5K and fun run — all taking place on various parts of the marathon course, which features downtown Tulsa.

In 2009, event organizers decided to move the quarter-marathon to August to create a training kickoff event. The Williams Route 66 Quarter Marathon also includes a 5K and fun run. Additionally, participants can choose to run “The Double” — the quarter-marathon and 5K on the same day. The separate event has become widely popular and is expected to nearly double the number of participants this year to 2,500 from 1,500.

Lieberman and his volunteer board describe the marathon as a celebration and carry out that theme through all the elements unique to the Route 66 Marathon, including more than 40 live bands stationed throughout the course, a classic car show, finish-line festival and concert, and even a party to thank volunteers.

“The Route 66 Marathon is a 26.2-mile-long party to celebrate the conclusion of the months of training it took for our participants to get across the finish line,” Lieberman says.

Tulsa Route 66 Marathon Inc. is an all-volunteer 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. The proceeds from its events benefit the Tulsa Area United Way. The events have been made possible each year by generous corporate partners, including Williams, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma and the Tulsa World.

The associated health, fitness and sustainability expo also has grown with the marathon and this year will include products and information on sustainability and free health screenings on Friday, Nov. 19, and Saturday, Nov. 20, at the Tulsa Convention Center.

Lieberman has specific goals for the marathon, including growing participation to 20,000 by the 10th year, but he also sees a way to make an even greater and enduring impact on the community.

“The Route 66 Marathon is about more than just our races,” he says. “We’re going to use our events as a way to improve the health and quality of life of our entire community with educational programs extending into schools and creating a lasting impact from youth to adult.”

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