Run, Remember, Rebuild: 11th annual Joplin Memorial Run set for May 7

Participants line up to run in the 1 Mile Fun Run during a previous Joplin Memorial Run event. Photo courtesy Bob Brown

JOPLIN, Mo. — The Joplin Memorial Run will be held on May 7, 2022, at Cunningham Park in Joplin, Mo. This will be the 11th year for the annual event sponsored by Freeman Health System. Each year 1,500 to 2,400 participate in the various distance events consisting of a 5K, 10K, Half Marathon Relay, Half Marathon and a Kids 1 Mile Fun Run.

The memorial event was organized after the devastating EF5 tornado changed Joplin forever back in May 2011. One-hundred and sixty-one four-state citizens perished that day, and hundreds of millions of dollars of property was destroyed. Each year the organizers honor those individuals by flying banners with their names upon them. The event’s motto is Run, Remember and Rebuild. Proceeds from the Memorial Run have been used to purchase building materials to rebuild homes, provided needed funding for issues the children have had who endured those brutal moments and who relive those traumatic moments when storms roll through today. In addition, proceeds have assisted with funding to the Humane Society of Joplin, the Bill and Virginia Leffen Center for Autism and this year funding will go to a memorial statue at the new Cornell Performing Arts Center.

The causes are good, the event is one that participants from all over the US come to annually, and for various reasons. Many come to honor their loved one lost, they walk or run the event with signs or shirts emblazoned with a name, or names. Many come because it’s a premier running event in SWMO.

“We are not a huge race like the Boston Marathon, but we strive to give the runners that Big Race feel, said Race Director Ruth Sawkins. “I think we do, as many runners tell us this is their favorite race, many who have been to Boston or the New York Marathon event.”


The Joplin Memorial Run consistently has runners come from 20-25 States, and often has international participants. But the majority of the runners are regional, many from Carthage and the surrounding Joplin communities. Frank Luby, from Chicago came, to assist in the aftermaths organized cleanups in Joplin in 2011 and makes his annual trek back to Joplin to run a Half Marathon and stay for a few days in the Ozarks. Luby has only missed one year due to unforeseen circumstances.

Carthage’s Bob Brown prepares to start racers participating in the annual Joplin Memorial Run. Photo courtesy Bob Brown

A large majority of the attendees walk the events, they are not joggers, they are not runners, but they want to be a part of the largest event in Joplin.  Some have never entered a 5K (3.1 miles) and often make this their ‘first-ever.’ Many couples run or jog or walk various events and come to the finish line hand-in-hand. Many use the JMR as the goal to get in shape for after winter.

Greg Fugett, Neosho, Mo., said, “We all have our New Year’s Resolutions and normally fall off the wagon, each year I set the Memorial Run as my target to get back into shape after the holiday season and cold winter.”

Some will come to run or walk the 5K and then spend more time at the event to volunteer for various duties needed to provide the event.

More information can be found at There is a registration tab to sign up to enter one of the events and also a tab if you would want to volunteer at the event.