Stitt challenges healthier life with Marathon run
Gov. Kevin Stitt on Sunday became the first sitting governor to compete in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon and likely the first runner to come complete with a security detail.
Along with members of his cabinet and some of his closest advisers, Stitt participated in the marathon relay, covering more than six miles of the course.
The governor ran the first leg of the race and kicked off the early morning hours with a steady pace on his 10-kilometer jog from the heart of downtown to familiar territory — the state Capitol.
Stitt participated in the run, which left him winded at times, as a way to encourage Oklahomans to be healthier.
“It is a health initiative because personal responsibility is a big part of health in our state. And we are not the most active state,” he said Friday.
It’s not unusual for public officials to issue public health challenges.
Former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett challenged city residents to lose a combined one million pounds with his This City is Going on a Diet initiative. Similarly, former first lady Michelle Obama pushed her Let’s Move initiative to curb childhood obesity.
Stitt's push to make Oklahomans healthier is less of a full-formed initiative and more of a public relations campaign to show if the governor can challenge himself others can too.
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Just days before the race, Stitt joked he should have trained harder. He tried to complete three training runs each week in the time leading up to the marathon.
But the governor was just as upbeat and energetic as ever when he crossed the finish line Sunday.
“Just the amount of energy from people out supporting us, the number of fans on every corner, it was fantastic. It was just a beautiful day in Oklahoma City,” Stitt said.
The governor challenged Oklahomans to form competing relay teams for the marathon — the largest race in the state — and promised participants who beat Team Stitt they would receive a T-shirt emblazoned with, “I beat the governor.”
Stitt’s race attire even goaded on fellow runners with the challenge ”CAN YOU BEAT THE GOV?” printed on the back of his white T-shirt.
Stitt’s team finished the course in four hours and 15 minutes. Relay participants who beat that time will receive their shirts in the mail. Winning teams in each of the relay categories will also be invited to the governor’s mansion for a May luncheon.
The governor cruised across the finish line to cheers from the crowd and praise from volunteers handing out medals to participants. Stitt high-fived fellow runners and posed for photos, just as he did along the course.
“Everybody that passed us would say, ‘we’re passing the governor’ and then they would take selfies with me. ... It was just so energizing," Stitt said.
Team Stitt beat a relay team from the Oklahoma Senate and a team of governor's office staffers, but was just barely outpaced by a relay team of representatives from the Oklahoma House.
Stitt’s team included Secretary of Public Safety Chip Keating, Secretary of Digital Transformation David Ostrowe, Stitt campaign chairman Corbin McGuire and Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur.
Arthur lost her mother, Margaret “Peggy” Clark, in the Oklahoma City bombing — the marathon pays tribute to the 168 victims.
After the race, Stitt hosted a cookout at the Governor's Mansion for his team.
Stitt’s next fitness challenge will be to participate in a Tulsa Tough bike race in June.