Occupational Therapist, Brittany Essaili, takes running to heart
The 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City has left an indelible mark on Oklahomans of all ages. Occupational Therapist, Brittany Essaili, was in kindergarten at the time of the bombing and has grown up watching how that event has shaped the culture of Oklahoma City, the state of Oklahoma and the nation. On April 30th, Brittany will participate for the 12th time in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, which not only honors the memories of those killed in the bombing, but also celebrates life and strives to unite the world in hope for the future.
“It’s inspiring to see Oklahoma City continue to honor our past and continue to grow from it,” says Brittany.
Although she will be seven months pregnant on race day, Brittany is joining three of her sorority sisters from Pi Beta Phi at University of Oklahoma to run the race as a relay. The relay runs the entire marathon course, but is split into five legs that total 26.2 miles.
“The team can all join the runner of the last leg and cross the finish line together,” Brittany explains. “It’s a fun way to make the race a team event without running a full or half marathon.”
As a young mom, Brittany has kept her commitment to running. “Pregnancy and motherhood change you as a person. You make more sacrifices than you really anticipate. I’m a better person and mother when I’m consistently running,” she says. She also wants to set an example for her children by keeping herself physically and mentally healthy. “I am a goal-oriented person. Having a concreate plan and a goal of a race in sight really helps hold me accountable and provides a feeling of accomplishment,” Brittany says.
Brittany shares her passion for running with her college friends, and despite the fact they live in four different states, they joined together during COVID to complete monthly virtual running challenges together.
“It really strengthened our bond as friends, even as we were separated and isolated due to COVID. We are all so excited to participate as a team in this race that is so close to my heart.”
This particular race holds a great deal of meaning for Brittany. “I often get teary-eyed at the start line and various points along the route,” she shares.
In memory of the 168 people who lost their lives in the bombing, there is always a moment of silence lasting exactly 168 seconds (about three minutes).
“Seeing firefighters in full gear completing the race, the random strangers cheering for you as if they’ve known you your whole life, and even seeing people I know along the route cheering so loudly brings a different meaning and motivation. It really is always a ‘Run to Remember,’” Brittany says.
Brittany is happy to share her passion for running with anyone interested in learning more. For those interested in participating in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon or attending the race festivities to cheer on the runners, find out more at https://okcmarathon.com/.