We always want to remember the reason for this event.

On May 22, 2011 an EF-5 tornado tore through Joplin destroying many homes, businesses, and taking 161 lives. For the first and last mile of the Joplin Memorial Marathon course, we display 161 victim banners that our runners run through. One name is on every banner displayed. On the Friday night before the event, we host the Walk of Silence which is free and open to the public. At 7:00 P.M. we have a group time and pause for reflection then Joplin street from 7th-20th is closed until 8:00 P.M. for viewing of the banners, a time of remembering, and honoring the lives lost. You can walk the whole mile down and back, you can choose to visit a few banners, or stay at one, it is up to you. We encourage people to come with their businesses, family, friends, whoever you want to be with at this time. Some groups make shirts to wear in remembrance. Our goal is to provide a time for us to remember as a community. There is no cost for this event.

Read the Names of the 161 we Honor

How we came to be

2003 – 2004 Festival of the Four States 4k and 8k

The Joplin Memorial Half Marathon actually began as the Festival of the Four States 4k and 8k in 2003. Founder Audie Dennis suggested a run be added to the festival as a way of rounding out the weekend. While the committee declined to include a run the Festivals first year in 2002, it was added for the 2003 event. The run took place downtown starting on Virginia Street by the Joplin Globe and traveled easterly on Langston Hughes Boulevard before the turnaround near St. Louis Avenue. The inaugural event brought out 115 runners (including current Race Director Ruth Sawkins - then a college sophomore at OCC), making it by far the largest annual run in the area at that time. The 2004 event drew 120 runners. Sadly, the records of the winners from the first two years events have been lost.

2005 – 2008 Boomtown Days 5k and 10k

The Festival of the Four States was rechristened as Boomtown Days and moved from downtown to Landreth Park in 2005. While organizers liked the course they had downtown, they felt that, being part of the festival, they need to move with the festival. Organizers took advantage of the move to change the race distance from a 4k/8k to 5k/10k and incorporated the Frisco Greenway Trail into the course at that time. Winners in 2005 included Tonya Wood in women’s division of the 5k with a time of 22:07 and Jeremy Butler in the men’s division of the 5k with a time of 19:00. Erin Sutton took the 10k with a time of 39:42 and Steve Vockrodt won the men’s 10k with a time of 34:43. The Boomtown Days 5k/10k continued through 2008. Winners during that time included:


Women’s 5k - Courtney Wood 22:20
Men’s 5k - Geoff Karhoff 17:50
Women’s 10k - Susan Melly 39:49
Men’s 10k - Jacob Rotich 31:51


Women’s 5k - Courtney Wood 22:02
Men’s 5k - Allan Good 18:44
Women’s 10k - Cary Fuller 46:28
Men’s 10k - Austin Bunn 33:44


Women’s 5k - Courtney Wood 22:19
Men’s 5k - Kevin McCullough 17:40
Women’s 10k - Carrie Vestal 39:10
Men’s 10k - Jason Mc Cullough 33:27

Results for 2009 forward can be found on our results page

2009 – 2010 Boomtown Days Half Marathon and 5k

After the 2008 event, race officials were approached by Vince Lindstrom, Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) director about the possibility of applying for a CVB grant in an effort to grow the event. Recognizing the goal of a CVB grant is to put heads in beds, the run committee did away with the 10k portion of the event in favor of the addition of a half marathon. The event start was moved downtown to Joplin Street by Memorial Hall and a course taking runners through the southwest and western parts of the city was created. Ruth Sawkins joined the board as a volunteer in 2009. The inaugural Boomtown Days Half Marathon and 5k in 2009 drew 507 total participants. The second annual Boomtown Days Half Marathon and 5k in 2010 drew 929 runners. James Kirwa won the men’s half marathon with a time of 1:07:10 with Lisay Cherstich taking the women’s half in 1:21:29.

2011 - The Year of the Tornado

Planning and registrations for the 2011 Boomtown Days Half Marathon and 5k were going well and organizers were making final preparations when the unthinkable happened. On May 22, 2011, twelve days before the event was to be held, an EF-5 tornado tore through the center of Joplin, destroying 30% of the city and claiming 161 lives. The initial response was to cancel the event, but then organizers started receiving hundreds messages from runners that had registered for the event. Understanding the run could not be held, they wanted to know what they could do to help the city in its time of need. The run committee met three days after the tornado and the idea of a Day of Service to replace the run was born. Instead of running, participants were asked to instead come to Joplin and help with debris removal and donation sorting. It was also announced that all proceeds from the event would go to help with the tornado recovery. After the announcement, Runners World magazine picked up on it and spread the word on their web site. Immediately, people from throughout the nation started registering for the run that wouldn’t happen, knowing their money would help in the recovery efforts. Running clubs in Florida, Ohio and Michigan organized remote Boomtown Days runs to take place on the day and time the original was to be held with all proceeds being sent to race organizers in Joplin for donation to the recovery efforts. The Day of Service saw over 400 runners come from as far away as Texas and Nebraska. A memorial service was held prior to school buses transporting participants into the tornado zone to help with debris removal. A “finish line” was set up for “runners” to cross as they came off the buses that afternoon. Because the medals had already been received prior to the storm, all participants received a medal after crossing the finish line. Jeff Galloway, who had been the scheduled guest speaker for the 2011 event, donated his time to come to Joplin anyway and worked alongside hundreds of others doing debris removal in one of the hardest hit areas of town. Runners World magazine was present also and would later name the Boomtown Days Half Marathon one of its Heroes of Running for 2011 in its January 2012 edition.

2012 and after: Joplin Memorial Run

Race organizers met shortly after the Day of Service and voted to reinvent the Boomtown Days Half Marathon and 5k as the Joplin Memorial Run, and named Ruth Sawkins as Race Director for 2012. The purpose of the event would be to honor the 161 people that perished in the storm and to raise funds to support the rebuilding effort and the construction and maintenance of memorials to those lost and to the tens of thousands of volunteers that came to Joplin’s aid. Emotions were high as the inaugural Joplin Memorial Half in 2012 drew over 2900 runners to the starting line. After the 2012 race organizers initiated a grass root fund raising campaign to purchase 161 memorial flags to be placed over the first one mile of the course. Each flag bore the name of one of the 161 people that died in the tornado. Over $20,000 was raised and the run funded the balance needed to ensure the flags would be in place for the 2013 event. 2310 runners participated in the 2013 event. The banners proved to be not only meaningful to the runners but to the entire city as traffic backed up on Joplin Avenue the evening before the run as citizens sought to view them, many stopping to spend a few moments a the flag of friends or family members lost. The banners have come to symbolize the event and are now part of the event logo. 2014 - 2145 people participated in the 2014 event and a Walk of Silence of added for the first time. The Walk of Silence was created as a way to allow the community as a whole to be part of the event by allowing anyone and everyone an opportunity to walk the 1.5 miles out and back past the memorial banners as a time of reflection in remembrance to those lost in the storm. 2015-There was a buzz about the event in 2015 as it was rebranded as the Joplin Memorial Run with a new logo and new look. The course were also new and improved. 2804 runners turned out to check out the new courses and new look.


​The 161 we honor:

Jose Olimpo Alvarez
Maria de Lourdes Alvarez-Torres
Barbara Ann Morgan Anderson
Sarah Lee Sherfy Anderson
William Austin Anderson
Grace L. Aquino
Dale Lawrence Arsenault
Cyrus Edward Ash, Jr
Bruce Baillie
Robert W. Baker
Robert Eugene Bateson
Dorthey Lee Calvert Bell
Regina Mae Bloxham
Barbara Fuller Boyd
Lathe E. Bradfield
Burnice M. Bresee
Ramona Mae Peavey Bridgeford
Leo Earl Brown
Hugh Odell Buttram
Tami Leigh Campbell
Arriyinnah Savannah Carmona
Moises Carmona
Shante Marie Caton
Trentan Maurice Steven Caton
Rev. Raymond LeRoy Chew, Sr
Clyde L. Coleman
Carolane Jean Burton Collins
Lois Ada McKinney Comfort
Keenan Krice Conger
James Van Cookerly
Edmond Andrew Cooper
Vicki Lynn Cooper
Alice L. Cope
Teddy Ray Copher
Malisa Ann Crossley
Adam Dewayne Darnaby
Patricia Elaine Dawson
Michael Wayne Dennis
Nancy Elizabeth Thornberry Douthitt
Ellen Jeanette Doyle
Faith Constance Dunn
Amonda Sue Eastwood-Pryor
Richard Allen Elmore
Randy Edward England
Mark Lewis Farmer
Ida Mildred Finley
Betty Jo Burlington Fisher
Robert S. Fitzgerald
Rick E. Fox
Marsha Ann Winkler Frost
Sebastian C. Frost
Charles Kenneth Gaudsmith
Billie Jo Gideon
Robert M. Griffin
Steven Joseph Haack-Stephens
Paul Eugene Haddock
Johnna Jean Stanbery Hale
Leola M. Hardin
Caley Lantz Hare
Dorothy Viola Gray Hartman
Dee Ann Kelly Hayward
Judy Rae Bryan Head
Glenn Wayne Holland
Lorie Marie Lippoldt Holland
Ronnie D. Hollaway
Charlotte “Char” Hopwood
Harli Jayce Howard
Hayze Cole Howard
Russell Thomas Howard
Iona Lee Hull
Wendy Ann Wasson Istas
Jane E. Jaynes
Melisa Renee Johnson
Dorothy M. Johnston
Cheryl Lynne Jones
Kathy Susan Keling
James David Kendrick
Abraham “Abe” H. Khoury
Stanley D. Kirk
Geneva Eutsler Koler
Tedra J. Kuhn
Donald Wayne Lansaw, Jr
Bruce A. Lievens
Billie Sue Huff Little
Skyuler Ignatius Logsdon
Christopher Don Lucas
Patricia Anne Mann
Rachel Kristine Markham
Nancy Ann Grinage Martin
Janice Kay Yeager McKee
Jesse Len McKee
James Edward McKeel
Mary Lois McKeel
LaDonna S. Journot McPurdy
Randall Elvin Mell
Angelina Ann Menapace
Doris Marie Finley Menhusen-Montgomery
Ronald Dale Meyer
Lorna “Kay” Wildrix Miller
Ray Donald “Tripp” Miller, III
Suzanne M. Francione Mock
Edith “Edie” Louise Froelich Moore
Esterlita M. Moore
Sally Ann Harris Moulton
G. Nadine Morris Mulkey
Edmund Vincent Mullaney
Sharyl Anyssa San Miguel Nelsen
William Richard Norton
Dennis Melvin Osborn
Charles E Oster
Shirley Ann Parker
Nichole Pearish
Mary Joyce Thurman Perry
James Benjamin John Peterson
Anna Pettek
Jay Petty, Jr
Hallie Marie Agleton Piquard
Natalia Marie Puebla
Troy Douglas Ramey
Shelly Marie Gray Ramsey
Loretta L. Randall
Cheryl E. Spruce Rantz
Darlene Kay Hall Ray
Virgil Thomas Reid
Johnnie Ray Richey
Vicki P. Robertson
Cayla Ann Selsor Robinson
Keith Derek Robinson
Margaret Ellen Row
Virginia Mae Templeton Salmon
Grace Marie Dummit Sanders
Thomas B. Sarino
Tonja Lee Sawyer
Frances Ann Worm Scates
Gladys Juanita Stanton Seay
Daniel Wayne Shirley
Judy Lee Brown Smith
Luther Gene Smith
Nicholaus Adam Smith
Shyrell Lee Cranor Smith
Lois Laverne Schnook Sparks
Betty J. Toops Stogsdill
Ralph Gilbert Stover
JT Strickland
Gregan Douglas Sweet
Jefferson Taylor
Kayleigh Savannah Teal
Heather Leigh Terry
Sandra Kay Thomas
John L. Thomas, Jr
Zachary Delbert Treadwell
Margaret Ann Unger Tutt
Michael E. “Mikey” Tyndall
Darian Darlene Vanderhoofven
Joshua Dean Vanderhoofven
Miguel “Mikey” Vasquez-Castillo
Miles Dean Wells
Tiera Nicole Whitley
Douglas Earl Williams
Zachary “Zach” Allen Williams
Charles William Writer

Title Sponsors

  • Freeman Health System


  • US Bank
  • Sparklight
  • Sign Designs
  • Liberty Utilities
  • Zimmer Radio Inc
  • Forest Park Baptist Church
  • chick-fil-a
  • Run Radio.net
  • Great Plains Financial Credit Union
  • Jimmy Johns
  • Leggett and Platt
  • SNC Squared
  • Midwestern Interactive
  • Joplin CVB
  • Globe
  • Homewood Suites
  • Show Me Magazine
  • Missouri Eagle
  • American Family Insurance
  • Fox14
  • Koam
  • Start Mechanical Supply
  • KODE
  • JoMo Moving
  • HomeLight
  • Maningas
  • Crossland Construction
  • Home 2
  • KSN
  • Countryside Storage
  • AMi Radio
  • Mets

Still have questions?

Contact Us