Running for a Cause

The Tulsa Federal Credit Union Run brings together athletes from across the nation to support Oklahoma charities.

Tulsan JD Stigall has competed in every Tulsa run since the race began in 1978.

Tulsan JD Stigall has competed in every Tulsa run since the race began in 1978.

Neither freezing temperatures nor blazing heat has stopped JD Stigall from completing the Tulsa Federal Credit Union Run every year since it started in 1978.

In fact, Stigall is not alone. She is one of 16 “All Year Runners,” those who have run and completed the 15K every year since the race began. Originally started by local Tulsa running enthusiasts, the Tulsa Federal Credit Union Run is now overseen by the Tulsa Sports Commission and has had more than 149,000 runners cross the finish line over the years, and many are returning participants.

People return each year because it is a tradition, and Stigall says she enjoys the activity. “The Tulsa Run is the city’s premier running event, plus I want to keep my ‘All Year Runner’ streak going as long as physically possible,” she says.

Stigall states that her best time for the race was in 1985 when she completed it in 1:08.

Tradition, dedication, love of running  – there are many reasons why some of the more than 7,500 participants return to the race, but Heath Aucoin, vice president of operations for Tulsa Sports Commission/Visit Tulsa, says the All Year Runners are the most loyal of them all.

“We’ve had many that have competed, but our ‘All Year Runners,’ those are the folks we know year in and year out are going to show up,” he says.

The commission is currently working on a project to manually enter nearly 70,000 participants’ information so that a digital catalog can be created to track racers accurately. The catalog would eventually be accessible to the public, making it much easier to follow the All Year Runners, as well as the other long-term returning racers.

From the devoted runners returning each year to its mission of providing funds for local Oklahoma charities and non-profits, this is a community-powered event.

“The Tulsa Run just bleeds the spirit of Tulsa,” Aucoin says. “People come to race from all over the nation, but it’s so special to see our local community rally around this race year after year.”

Many of the participants also run with their children or even grandchildren, making the event a family affair. “It’s amazing to see runners become parents and start involving their kids,” Aucoin says. “It’s a big event for lots of families!”

A run is never without a cause, and this one is no different. While some races raise funds to support specific causes like cancer research or a rare disease, the Tulsa Federal Credit Union Run is about giving back to Oklahoma. Each year, six different charities or nonprofits are chosen to receive the benefits. Some of the past organizations that have received donations include Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, Boys’ Home of Tulsa, Camp Fire Green Country and Community Heath Connection Medical Services.

This year’s primary beneficiary is the organization Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma. The organization will receive a $25,000 donation. There are also five other charities that will receive a $1,000 donation each, and a total of 10 Tulsa schools will be awarded $4,000.