Elite Runner Joins Run To Remember In Honor Of Late Wife

More than preparation, determination can be key in going the distance. Mark Thompson knows that well. News 9's Colby Thelen spoke with him about how he honors his late wife.

Thursday, April 25th 2024, 10:17 pm

By: News 9, Colby Thelen


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More than preparation, determination can be key in going the distance.

Mark Thompson knows that well. “I’ve been doing it a long time,” he says. “Since high school.”

Racing - to the former University of Arkansas runner - is as familiar as the campus of Oklahoma Christian where he often trains. “Yeah, I’ve run many loops around this thing,” Thompson says.

The loops on this trail and the love for the event he’s training for came from someone whom he loved. “She loved that I was a well-known runner, but she also loved that she had run 2 marathons to my 0,” Thompson recalls. “I sort of enjoyed letting her have that too.”

The 'she' he refers to is Darci. The two married in 2006. Darci participated in her first Run to Remember in 2004.

“Darci just loved adventure. She loved events. She loved people,” Thompson says. “To her, it was pretty natural to say ‘Hey, let’s do this thing.’”

Naturally, she also had a knack for recruiting. She eventually went on to recruit co-workers at Oklahoma Christian and worked to grow a running community on campus. “We had teams of over 500 people that were part of what we called Team OC,” says Thompson.

Community isn’t the only thing at OC that is special to Mark. Past the 168 flags across campus and past the new survivor tree memorial, there is a spot on campus that reminds Mark why he runs. “Her doctor told her she should get a lump checked out – really to put her mind at ease,” he says. “She was pregnant with our second child.”

A few days later everything changed. “You’re sitting in the doctor’s office and they say well bad news you have cancer,” he recalls. “The whole world changed immediately.”

It was a change for which you can’t prepare. After a years-long battle, Darci passed away in February of 2020. “A lot of runs I will stop and sit exactly here,” Thompson says of the memorial to Darci on campus. “I didn’t have the words to put on the plaque. It was too hard to talk about.”

It was also hard to return downtown for the Run to Remember after her death. “That was probably the first marathon since probably [2005] that I wasn’t down there,” Thompson says. “I remember watching it on TV and just being really really depressed and was in a tough spot.”

Not long after that race, he received a phone call from the Dean of OC. The 2022 race would be dedicated to Darci. “If all these people are going to do it again – do it for Darci in her honor – then what is my part in honoring my wife and what she did?” he says.

That year would be Mark’s first full marathon. He placed fifth. “The first one was huge. It was a huge emotional release,” he recalls. “Crossing the finish line was, it was special for me, but all of her family was there cheering me on.”

Darci got one more recruit. “It’s something that I can do that I can go and honor that spirit of hers,” Thompson says. “Darci just had such a determined spirit.”

That determination becomes inspiration through Mark going the distance.

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