On the 5th Day of Christmas Running Gave to Me: 5 Engagement Rings!

fri5idoOk, well, I didn’t get five engagement rings myself, but running did bring me one! However, because it’s Friday and the classic song this series is riffed from talks about five golden rings, I thought I’d share not just mine, but four other runner engagement stories too!

This is also fitting because the holidays are marriage proposal season. Although that may be true for the general population, we runners all know the best time of the year isn’t Christmas; it’s spring and fall racing seasons!

1. The Meaningful Race Engagement

This is one of the sweetest engagement stories that I’ve ever heard. In 2014, Andrea Streb friend-zoned Matt Padgett. Matt really liked Andrea whether they had a romantic future or not, so he accepted his demotion gracefully. Unbeknownst to marathon-runner Andrea, Matt drove from North Carolina to Richmond, Virginia to cheer and support her as she crossed the finish line of her fall goal race, the Richmond Marathon. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to him, Andrea regretted rebuffing Matt. Imagine her shock when she saw him at the finish line where she collapsed into his arms; they have been together ever since.

On November 14, 2015 they crossed the finish line of the American Family Fitness Half Marathon in Richmond together, the same place where he patiently waited for Andrea to appear a year earlier. Seconds later, he proposed!

2. The Almost-a-Catastrophe Engagement

What’s the worst nightmare can that happen to an engagement ring? In 2013 Damien Kavanagh planned on proposing to Iris Wade after he crossed the finish line at the London Marathon. He placed the ring and an energy tablet in the same pocket of his running shorts. Halfway through the marathon, he fished around for the energy tablet and couldn’t find the ring. Eventually he found the ring, which was stuck on the other side of the tablet. Fortunately for him (and Iris), he had not lost the ring after all. He proposed to her with no further incident.

3. Finish Line Engagement Interuptus

On May 3, 2015 Bryan Peterson crossed the finish line of the Pittsburgh Half Marathon with his girlfriend, Veronica Carter. With the endorphins and the high of completing a long awaited goal, Bryan professed his love to Veronica. At that moment, with her eyes welling up with tears of happiness, the security guard swooped down and brusquely told them, “Move along. Move along.”  That magical moment was interrupted. While the security guard did not ruin their day, he definitely put a bit of a damper on the moment.

4. The Best Race Sign EVER!

We all love great race signs, but imagine running toward the finish line and having a series of signs just for you. That was Ann Sennett’s experience as she cruised to the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Dan Koh, her boyfriend, arranged to have a signs every .1 miles starting from 24.8 and popped the question right after she crossed the finish line. The mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, was there to present the ring. How did Dan pull this off? Dan is Walsh’s chief of staff.

5. The Pre-race Pop-o-the-Question

Being a more private person, I didn’t want an event that I considered to be highly personal to be out in public, nor did I want to be hot and sweaty for one of the most meaningful moments of my life. So when my now-husband floated the idea of a finish line proposal, I told him my two dream criteria for a proposal were: 1) in private and 2) when I was dressed up. Thus began the three months of wondering whether “this was THE NIGHT” every time we went out to dinner or for drinks.

Our first trip as a couple was to spectate the Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run in Washington, D.C. A couple of years later, we went back to D.C., but this time so we could race. The night before the race we had an early dinner with friends. Afterwards, Ben took me out for a drink at a trendy new cocktail lounge by the Mall. After our drinks, he persuaded me to go on a walk because the night was so lovely and it was still early. I agreed, but wondered slightly because usually before a race he can’t be persuaded to walk anymore than he absolutely has to.

While we walked fireworks went off over the Mall and I squealed with delight. We strolled through the cool night air until we ended up at the WWII Memorial. The lit fountains looked gorgeous at night. We wandered until we happened upon signs for California and Oregon, which are the states that we’re from. They were right next to each other, which Ben took as a sign that as the right moment to pop the question. After several minutes of hugging, kissing, and smiling at each other, Ben frantically asked, “You did say yes, right?” Of course, I said yes.

We thought it would be fun to share a bunch of great engagement photos from me, Coriander and some Salty friends! Enjoy!

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Do you have a great running engagement story?


For all the 12 Days of Running posts, go here!

I'm an academic, a runner, and a New York cliché. I write about the science of exercise, training, and the culture of running. My current goals are a sub-23:00 5K (achieved on 4/22/17 with 22:48) and a sub-1:45 HM (achieved on 10/1/17). Now what?

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  1. This is so fun! I feel like running related engagements are more frequent these days- but I love that people are finding that passion for someone, through the running passion.

    I totally agree that I would want mine to be more private though- mainly because of the whole sobbing thing that would probably happen 😉

    1. There seems to be more bigger and public engagement proposals, which is fine for people who like that. I already think that a wedding is enough of a public display that I wanted something private for the two of us.

  2. I never thought I’d be proposed to or wear an engagement ring. I mean that like I didn’t think I was into that thing and then even after I met my husband I didn’t think he’d ever get around to doing it! In fact, we started planning our wedding in May of 2007 with no formal proposal at all. But then a couple months later in July he took me ring shopping and we picked out a ring. Meanwhile, I was training for my third marathon and the first where I was beginning to think sub-3 was a possibility for me. I was running 65, 75, 80, 90 miles a week. I was focused, August went by. No proposal. September. Nothing. Our wedding was scheduled for 11/10/07. October was race month. We had engagement photos taken, even though we weren’t technically engaged. We sent out wedding invitations. Finally, I ran the marathon. I ran my PR, but it was slightly disappointed when anxiety got the best of me and I struggled with terrible side stitches through the last 7 miles. I was kind of bummed, but excited to now focus on the wedding. We drove home from Columbus and Mike took an early exit and we drove to a park where we walked and had one of those intense first-dating maybe we have a future talks. We hit the trails. I hobble slightly along side him for about a mile and we came to a bridge we had crossed back then. There were people around. Mike was terribly nervous. He got frustrated waiting for them all to leave and just got down on two knees because he was nervous and finally asked. Of course I said yes! The reason he waited until after the race? He didn’t want me to be crabby when he did it. HAHAHA. Marathon training!

    1. Hahaha! I had a truly awful day at work the Friday before, so I was totally rage-y all of Friday and Saturday morning. Ben spent several hours wondering if he should go ahead with his plan or if he should postpone. By the afternoon, I calmed down enough that he felt safe enough to ask that night.

  3. My husband proposed to me at the end of a 10-mile run. Though I was expecting we would get engaged, I had absolutely no expectation he’d pop the question on the run! The setting was great, though – sunset on the Charles River on a beautiful early summer evening. He carried the ring in the tiny pocket of his running shorts through the whole run….and admitted later he was completely freaked it would fall out and wouldn’t be there when he was ready to give it to me!