Tulsa runners take a detour to the Center of the Universe

At Saturday's Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, marathoners have the option to add .3 miles to the 26.2 mile race.

Who would want to do that? Well, race organizers are hoping it's an element that will set them apart from other big races across the country.

"We have to give them a reason to come here [to race] rather than anywhere else and that's what we're trying to do," said Chris Lieberman, Route 66 Race Director.

Marathon runners have the option of taking a detour to the Center of the Universe, a concrete circle that has become somewhat of a tourist attraction for downtown Tulsa. No one is really sure how the Center of the Universe works, but when you step inside the circular area your voice echoes. Step out, and the echo stops.

On Saturday, for those who accept the detour, bands will be playing, a coin medal is awarded, and runners can grab a beer before finishing up the race. Spectators in the area are encouraged to make tin foil hats to compete in a contest.

It's all to add some silliness to an otherwise serious competition for runners.

"A lot of people thought it was a stupid idea," said Lieberman, who came up with the idea.  Something is working though, because the marathon is sold out for the first time in its history.

There is no need to register for the detour; it can be a last-minute decision. "Peer pressure is part of the fun," said Leiberman.

The fastest male and female marathoners who cross the finish line with the special coin will be crowned Mister and Miss Center of the Universe Detour.



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