This year’s Austin Marathon and Half Marathon were held on Valentine’s Day. According to the race announcers, over 10,000 participated in the half and about 5,000 did the full Marathon. In a nod to the holiday, the race bibs were heart-shaped.
The sun was not yet up when Bill and I walked over to the start line on Congress Avenue. After a greeting from Mayor Steve Adler and the singing of the National Anthem, the race began promptly at 7 AM. It took about 20 minutes for everyone to file down Congress Avenue. I later learned that the very last runner to begin was Steve Chase. In a fundraiser called “The Chase is On,” donations were given for every person that he passed over the 26.2 mile course. I read that Steve finished 92nd and passed 3,185 marathoners, raising over $8,000 for Family Eldercare.
The runners headed across the Congress Avenue Bridge, following the route through South Austin. In the meantime, Bill and I walked over to the First Street Bridge to watch them come back north. At Mile 6, Hayato Sonoda (Bib #1), was about a minute ahead of the rest of the field (both full and half).
The route continued west on Cesar Chavez. The half looped back to downtown along Enfield Road, while the full marathon continued north to Anderson Lane before circling back.
Around 9 AM, I walked up to the finish line around Congress and 10th Street. I was too late to see the half marathon winners, but I watched as Hayato Sonoda finished the full marathon with a time of 2.23:29—over six minutes ahead of second place finisher, Yuki Kojina. I left before the female winner, Chandi Moore, crossed the line (3.02:17).
As I was hanging out at the finish line, one pair of runners suddenly stopped before crossing the line. The guy dropped to one knee. The couple hugged, so the woman must have said “yes.” The crowd cheered.
Soon afterwards, the guy next to me asked the race announcers to let him stand inside the barriers. He patiently waited near the finish line with a sign that read, “Will you marry me?” (Yes, several strangers accepted his proposal as they ran by.) But somehow his intended didn’t see him, and he didn’t see her run by either. So the announcers called out her name and asked her to come back to the finish line. She seemed genuinely surprised, and also accepted. Two proposals in less than twenty minutes!
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