Marathon man

Williams Route 66 Marathon founder Chris Lieberman defies the odds.



Kim Hann and Chris Lieberman lead the Williams Route 66 Marathon, which Lieberman founded in 2005. The couple fell in love through their passion for running and started dating after working on the marathon together. In March 2016, an accident left Lieberman with severe brain trauma, causing Hann to step up her responsibilities with the event.

On Nov. 19, Chris Lieberman hopes to cheer on Corral D — the final group of runners to start the Williams Route 66 Marathon — as he has every year since he began the race in 2005.

“They’re my people,” he says, smiling, of the “slowest runners.”

Last year was the first time Lieberman missed seeing the marathon in person. Instead, he watched and listened to it on TV from a hospital room. He was still recovering, as he is today, from a traumatic brain injury he suffered in March 2016.

“That day he stood up for the first time in I don’t know how long,” says Kim Hann, Lieberman’s girlfriend and the marathon’s co-executive director. “He waited for everyone to start — from Corral A to D — and then finally sat back down.”

The past 20 months have been a rollercoaster for the couple. In March 2016, Lieberman was working in the marathon warehouse when he fell about 10 feet from a ladder, hitting his head and causing serious brain trauma. Extensive surgeries and care proceeded, all with Hann by his side. Lieberman has spent time in Atlanta, Houston and Dallas for intensive speech, occupational and physical therapy.

“Chris told me one day, ‘I’m not training for the Olympics,’” Hann says. “I said, ‘No, but you’re training for life.”

As he recovered, Hann stepped up to not only take care of Lieberman, but also fulfill marathon responsibilities.

When Lieberman became injured, it was a pretty significant blow to the organization, says Tim Dreiling, co-owner of Fleet Feet Sports and longtime Route 66 Marathon race director. Questions arose about who would step into Lieberman’s role because of his countless responsibilities.

“Kim was really there for Chris, and Chris was always there for the marathon, so Kim plugged herself into that role,” Dreiling says. “Kim is amazing in the strength she has exhibited.”

While Hann’s priority remained her boyfriend, the marathon provided a needed outlet. “Living in a hospital isn’t easy,” she says. “Luckily I had the marathon and the board to support me … I love running, and I love the event. It really was, I hate to say it, a distraction. It kept me motivated and kept me going, having that to focus on every day.”

 

Quite the undertaking

Dreiling is one of 30 volunteer directors who work year-round with Lieberman and Hann to make the Route 66 Marathon happen. The event includes a health and fitness exhibition and five races: a 1-mile fun run, a 5K, a marathon relay, a half-marathon and the marathon. The event is now in its 12th year, and organizers expect 12,000-15,000 runners from every state and nine countries to participate Nov. 18-19.

Community support is key to an event like this, Hann says, and Tulsa turns out every year. Race weekend calls for nearly 2,000 volunteers. More than 30 bands dot the course, which winds through iconic Tulsa neighborhoods and districts and brings out spectators who cheer on the runners.

“That’s exactly what we want it to be: a big party for everyone who comes to town,” Hann says. “(The participants) have already done all the hard work. They’ve done the training. The training is what takes so much time. Race day is just a celebration of the training.”

But it’s not just the Tulsa community that steps up. Race directors from across the country have come to Tulsa — and will again this year — to work the weekend and help out with operations and logistics.

“They know how hard it is to put on a race, especially of this caliber,” Hann says. “They understand what it takes. They want to see the Route 66 Marathon succeed and carry out Chris’ vision. (Their support) has been overwhelming.”

For 12 years, Lieberman and the Route 66 Marathon have put Tulsa on the map when it comes to running. He was first inspired to create the marathon as he was running his first — the Dallas Marathon — in 2004. “As I ran I thought, you know, we could do this in Tulsa,” he says.

Over the years, the Route 66 Marathon has garnered several local and national awards, including Best Overall Marathon in the U.S. by the 100 Half Marathon Club.

 

Defying the odds

First-time marathoners hold a special place in Lieberman’s heart. “For them, they’ve made so many changes,” he says. “And, they are so excited when they finish.”

The finish line is an emotional place for Hann, who can’t be at the finish line without getting teary. “To see someone set goals and achieve them, and that one moment has changed their life,” she says. “It’s pretty amazing.”

As Lieberman has traversed recovery, he has had setbacks. Fittingly, doctors told him and Hann that brain injury recoveries are more of a marathon than a sprint. His inpatient benefits maxed out in Dallas, so four months ago he returned home to Tulsa where he goes to post-acute rehabilitation once a week. He continues to make significant strides.

“It’s great to see him recovering, have him back around,” Dreiling says. “He comes to board meetings; chimes in; tries to tell Kim what to do, which is humorous.”

Just like any competitive runner, Lieberman has set goals for himself. First up, walking his daughters Ashton and Aldyn down the aisle at their 2018 weddings.

He currently walks at therapy with assistance, and running isn’t out of the question either. “I had to open my big mouth and tell Kim I would do a half marathon for her,” Lieberman says.

But no one questions the possibilities after how far Lieberman has come in less than two years. “At one point, they told us Chris would never speak, never laugh, all these nevers,” Hann says.

“Of course, they were full of it,” Lieberman chimes in, exuding confidence and the charm
Tulsans have come to know.

“They didn’t know Chris would prove everybody wrong,” Hann adds. “That’s what it’s all about: proving everybody wrong. It’s the same thing with endurance running. You’re setting a goal, you’re achieving a goal, and you put that time and effort in, and then it happens. You defy the odds, and you realize you can do things you didn’t think you could do.”

Williams Route 66 Marathon

Presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma

Nov. 17

11 a.m.-8 p.m., Health and Fitness Expo at the Cox Business Center

Nov. 18

8 a.m., 5K Run and Walk at Guthrie Green
9 a.m., 1-mile Fun Run at Guthrie Green
9:30 a.m., Mascot Dash at Guthrie Green
10 a.m.-6 p.m., Health and Fitness Expo at the Cox Business Center

Nov. 19

8 a.m., Marathon, Half-Marathon and Marathon Relay start at East Seventh and South Main streets and finish at Guthrie Green

route66marathon.com

 

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Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

For only January and February - four-legged family members can join you for a walk at the Botanic Garden - Fridays and Saturdays in January and February only.  Dogs must be on a leash (no...

Cost: FREE for Garden members and member dogs; Regular admission for non-members and $

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Website »

More information

Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Monterey Pop Festival, Arthouse 18 presents the quintessential photo exhibit of this groundbreaking rock festival. The photographs are from the...

Cost: Free and Open to the Public

Where:
Zarrow Center for Art & Education
124 East M.B. Brady Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Telephone: 918-631-4400
Website »

More information

This photographic journey shines a bright light on true game-changers who had something poignant, meaningful and often prophetic to say – people who pondered, practiced, processed and...

Cost: Free and Open to the Public

Where:
Zarrow Center for Art & Education
124 East M.B. Brady Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Telephone: 918-631-4400
Website »

More information

In this exhibition, 108 | Contemporary will feature Oklahoma artist members by hosting a juried survey of their work. Included pieces will be constructed from fiber, wood, ceramics, metal, and...

Cost: Free

Where:
108|Contemporary
108 E M.B. Brady St
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: 108|Contemporary
Contact Name: Ellen McGivern

More information

Contact improv is about choices, listening, sharing and generosity. It is a partner dance form based on the physical principles of touch, momentum, shared weight, and most quintessentially -...

Cost: $18.75 or $15 with punch card

Where:
Fly Loft studio 3
117 N Boston
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »

More information

Where:
Lefty's On Greenwood
10 N Greenwood Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
Hard Rock Casino - Cabin Creek
777 W Cherokee St
Catoosa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
Fassler Hall
304 S Elgin Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
Hard Rock Casino - Riffs
777 W Cherokee St
Catoosa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
Mercury Lounge
1747 S Boston Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
Osage Casino Tulsa - NINE18 Bar
951 W 36th St N
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

The Oklahoma Music Educators Association presents concerts featuring their Honor Band, All-State chorus, and All-State instrumental ensemble.

Cost: $18

Where:
Chapman Music Hall, Tulsa PAC
110 E 2nd St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
Centennial Lounge at VFW Post 577
1109 E 6th St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Cost: $13-$54

Where:
BOK Center
200 S Denver Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
Bistro at Seville
10021 S Yale Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
Blackbird on Pearl
1336 E 6th St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
Crystal Skull
1005 S Sheridan Rd
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
Wyld Hawgz
6151 E 31st St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Cost: $13-$54

Where:
BOK Center
200 S Denver Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Philbrook Downtown hosts a special conversation with guest curator Colin Tuis Nesbit on the New/Now show, which features works by Tulsa Artist Fellows. The show will feature behind-the-scenes...

Cost: $20

Where:
Philbrook Downtown
116 E M.B. Brady St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
River Spirit Casino - Volcano Stage
8330 Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
The Run
3141 E Skelly Dr
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
The Starlite
1902 E 11th St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
The Max Retropub
114 S Elgin Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
The Hunt Club
224 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Cost: $5

Where:
The Colony
2809 S Harvard Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

For only January and February - four-legged family members can join you for a walk at the Botanic Garden - Fridays and Saturdays in January and February only.  Dogs must be on a leash (no...

Cost: FREE for Garden members and member dogs; Regular admission for non-members and $

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Website »

More information

This marks the first time this remarkable collection has been exhibited internationally. OKCMOA will present some of the most important works from the Victoria and Albert’s outstanding...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

Opening to the public on Thursday, Nov. 16, the 110th anniversary of Oklahoma statehood, “The Art of Oklahoma” celebrates the Museum’s outstanding and...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Dr.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Website »

More information

This photographic journey shines a bright light on true game-changers who had something poignant, meaningful and often prophetic to say – people who pondered, practiced, processed and...

Cost: Free and Open to the Public

Where:
Zarrow Center for Art & Education
124 East M.B. Brady Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Telephone: 918-631-4400
Website »

More information

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Monterey Pop Festival, Arthouse 18 presents the quintessential photo exhibit of this groundbreaking rock festival. The photographs are from the...

Cost: Free and Open to the Public

Where:
Zarrow Center for Art & Education
124 East M.B. Brady Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Telephone: 918-631-4400
Website »

More information

All children ages 13 and under, accompanied by an adult, will be allowed in to all 2017-18 ORU Athletics ticketed sports. ALL KIDS – IT’S FREE! is strictly a promotion. These tickets have no...

Cost: $12, $17, $22

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74171
View map »


Sponsor: Mabee Center
Telephone: 918-495-6000
Contact Name: Box Office
Website »

More information

Green up your surroundings in January! Register now for this hands-on workshop where you will create a living art piece (12" x 12") of succulents nestled into a wood frame. You can keep...

Cost: $85 for Garden members; $95 for non-members

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Website »

More information

In this exhibition, 108 | Contemporary will feature Oklahoma artist members by hosting a juried survey of their work. Included pieces will be constructed from fiber, wood, ceramics, metal, and...

Cost: Free

Where:
108|Contemporary
108 E M.B. Brady St
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: 108|Contemporary
Contact Name: Ellen McGivern

More information

Toyland Ball, held every January, is The Parent Child Center of Tulsa’s annual signature fundraising event. This black tie gala with a whimsical theme offers an elegant evening of dinner and...

Cost: $300-$25,000

Where:
Cox Business Center
100 Civic Center
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: The Parent Child Center of Tulsa
Telephone: 918-599-7999
Contact Name: Melody Hughes
Website »

More information

All children ages 13 and under, accompanied by an adult, will be allowed in to all 2017-18 ORU Athletics ticketed sports. ALL KIDS – IT’S FREE! is strictly a promotion. These tickets have no...

Cost: $12, $17, $22

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74171
View map »


Sponsor: Mabee Center
Telephone: 918-495-6000
Contact Name: Box Office
Website »

More information

Planned Parenthood Great Plains hosts this Women's March after-party, which will feature a Feminist Art Wall where purchases benefit Planned Parenthood.

Where:
Mainline
111 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) hosts a Swing dance and lessons  The Oklahoma Swing Syndicate (TOSS) is the only UNESCO recognized dance organization in Oklahoma.  We are a 501c3...

Cost: $7

Where:
Community Center - South Minister Presby Church
3500 So Peoria
1/2 west of Peoria, on 35pl behind the church
Tulsa, OK  74102
View map »


Sponsor: The Ok Swing Syndicate
Telephone: 918-450-691
Contact Name: Rita Robbins
Website »

More information

The Spontaniacs! present “The 2018 Show”.  Yes, it's really here!  The show that's been 2,018 years coming!  Join us now as centuries of anticipation culminate at...

Cost: $8.00

Where:
pH Community House
306 S Phoenix Ave
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: The Spontaniacs!
Telephone: 918-521-9345
Contact Name: Eric Peterson
Website »

More information

Where:
El Coyote Manco
2160 S Garnett Rd
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
Crystal Skull
1005 S Sheridan Rd
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Cost: $20-$35

Where:
Cain's Ballroom
423 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
Hard Rock Casino - Cabin Creek
777 W Cherokee St
Catoosa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
Hard Rock Casino - Riffs
777 W Cherokee St
Catoosa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
Magoo's Billiards
5002 S Memorial Dr
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
Lot No. 6
1323 E 6th St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
Lefty's On Greenwood
10 N Greenwood Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
C'Yote Club
822 S Sheridan Rd
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
Bull and Bear Tavern
5800 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Cost: $8

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Cost: $13-$54

Where:
BOK Center
200 S Denver Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Making plans for this weekend? You can't do better than The Drunkard & The Olio at the historic Spotlight Theater. You know you've always wanted to go, and now's your chance. And if...

Cost: Adults $20, kids $12, seniors & military $17

Where:
Spotlight Theater
1381 Riverside Dr.
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »

More information

Cost: $10-$40

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Cost: $15-$44

Where:
Reynolds Center
3208 E 8th St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Cost: $37-$62

Where:
Brady Theater
105 W M.B. Brady St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
Blackbird on Pearl
1336 E 6th St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
Bad Ass Renee's
6373 E 31st St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
River Spirit Casino - 5 O'Clock Somewhere Bar
8330 Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
River Spirit Casino - Volcano Stage
8330 Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

The Mindfreak unplugged.

Cost: $99-$129

Where:
The Joint at Hard Rock Casino
777 W Cherokee St
Catoosa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

The Quartet in Residence at The University of Delaware, Serafin String Quartet takes its name from master luthier Sanctus Serafin, who in 1728 crafted the violin SSQ violinist Kate Ransom plays.

Where:
Gussman Concert Hall, Lorton Performance Center
550 S Gary Pl
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Cost: $35-$55

Where:
River Spirit Casino - Paradise Cove
8330 Riverside Pkwy
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

This free event will feature yoga workshops and lectures on alternative forms of medicine, including Reiki, Ayurveda, and herbal health.

Where:
Peace of Mind Books
1401 E 15th St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

The Scottish Club of Tulsa and ScotFest host their annual tribute to the national bard of Scotland, Robert Burns. The event features a haggis dinner, scotch whisky,and readings of Burns' poetry.

Cost: $70-$110

Where:
Wyndham Hotel Tulsa
10918 E 41st St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Cost: $15-$44

Where:
Reynolds Center
3208 E 8th St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Cost: $10-$40

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Cost: $8

Where:
Mabee Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Cost: $13-$54

Where:
BOK Center
200 S Denver Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
Wyld Hawgz
6151 E 31st St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
The Hunt Club
224 N Main St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
The Fur Shop
520 E 3rd St
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Cost: $5

Where:
The Colony
2809 S Harvard Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
The Max Retropub
114 S Elgin Ave
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
The Pit Stop
816 Sheridan
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
The Run
3141 E Skelly Dr
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

Where:
Osage Casino Tulsa - NINE18 Bar
951 W 36th St N
Tulsa, OK
View map »


Website »

More information

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TULtalk


What are you doing this weekend?

Stumped on what to do this weekend in Tulsa? Take this short quiz and we'll plan the weekend for you, January 18-21.

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QUIZ: Which Iconic Tulsa hat are you?

Find out whether you're a wide-brimmed wonder or ten-gallon titan.

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QUIZ: What kind of soup are you?

Are you more of a sassy sweet potato curry or a cool cucumber gazpacho? Find out in this fun quiz, then get the recipe!

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2018 Charitable Events Calendar

A comprehensive look at at Tulsa's charitable events of 2018.

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GIVEAWAY: Win 2 tickets to NYE at the Mayo!

Take an intergalactic journey into 2018 at the Mayo Hotel's Interstellar Soiree!

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