1060Running for love

Running for love

Looking for love in unlikely places? We speak to one couple whose mutual passion for running found them true love, and a honeymoon mountain run in the French Alps!
Simon and Julie Julie and Simon after the ING NYC Marathon - winning on all fronts!

Julie’s story

Simon and I met online and our second date was a civilised Thursday night dinner at a jazz club. An ultra runner himself, Simon enquired about my running, as my online profile said that I taken up running six months before; on mention that I had no idea how far/fast I could run but that I would like to try a race, he invited me to his next club race, two days later. After a good hour frantically trying to dress up for the occasion (I didn't have any technical gear at the time) I turned up in a cotton capri/t-shirt combo; there were the awkward first 30 seconds of saying hi while trying not to check his tightly packed bum, and pretending not to notice his running buddies whispering to each other in the distance; then Simon helped to pin the race number he had kindly organised for me. The event was a 10K race over three loops of Regents' Park, and I started at the very back of the pack. I felt great and started passing people straight away, with the support of the friendly marshals. Mid way, I pushed on knowing that if I was not quick enough, Simon would catch me - and slap my bum as he had warned me he'd do. Spurred on by the fear of being lapped, I pushed harder and finished in 54 minutes - a full 16 minutes after Simon. After a well deserved post-race breakfast date, we checked the results and I was shocked to see my name in the fifth place: Simon had been a gentleman and had handed me his lucky number for me to run in - and so he came 150th while I was officially a 38 min 10K runner!Since then, Simon has paced me to a perfect 3:59:25 first marathon in New York and inspired me to run many more marathons and half marathons. We got married three years after our first run date and the highlight of our mini-honeymoon in the Alps was a two-day mountain run around Chamonix. We have run the Davos mountain marathon together and dream of tackling the Ultra Trail Mont-Blanc 100 mile mountain race for one of our wedding anniversaries!follow Julie on Twitter! @juliekummer

Simon’s story

Running has been part of our relationship almost from the moment we met. On our second or third date Julie asked me what I was doing at the weekend and when I told her I was racing in a 10K that my club, the Mornington Chasers, organises, Julie said that she had been wanting to take part in a race for a while. Obviously I saw this as an opportunity to see her again, so I suggested that we should both run it and I would get her a place. On the morning of the race I was so excited and nervous to be seeing Julie again that I got the two numbers I was gripping in my shaking hands mixed up, so when I finished fifth I was wearing Julie's number and vice versa. It made for an apparently rather spectacular debut for Julie when the results were published the next day. However I also found out that day that Julie has a rather more laid-back attitude to organised running, as when we went from the finish line in Regent’s Park to Belsize Park for breakfast, Julie dropped her race number on the floor only for it to be swept into the bin by a street cleaner. Since then Julie and I have shared many running experiences. She has supported me at too many races for me to count (for which I am ever grateful) and I was given a taste of my own medicine last year when I ran the Paris Marathon, which meant I could support Julie while she ran the London Marathon. I discovered that trying to get around a marathon course on public transport, sticking to a specific schedule while dragging my ever more fatigued parents through thick crowds, is more taxing than running the race itself would have been!Three running experiences I have had with Julie really stand out for me. The first was running Julie's debut marathon with her in New York. Julie wanted to try to finish faster than four hours and we crossed the Central Park finish line holding hands in 3:59:26. The look of elation on Julie's face at such a wonderful achievement, mixed with shock of the pain in her legs, will stay with me forever. The second experience that I will always remember was running the Davos Mountain Marathon. We ran our own races and I remember when I finished thinking that it was simply the hardest thing I had ever done. I was really worried about Julie and concerned at the state she would be in after running 26.2 miles over two mountain passes on narrow, rocky paths. The grin that went from ear to ear as she crossed the finish line was a testament to how tough Julie is physically and mentally. The last of my three favourite runs with Julie was for our honeymoon - we ran a section of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc course from Chamonix to Courmayeur over two days (with an overnight stay in a yurt at the Refuge du Col de la Croix du Bonhomme, which is a story in itself). It was stunningly beautiful and remote and tough, but I couldn't think of a better way to start our married life together.
For more on Simon's inspirational running story, check out his website: www.simonfreeman.co.uk or follow him on Twitter! @simon_freeman
Thinking of going on a running date? Regents' Park 10K race is a monthly affair organised by the Mornington Chasers from March to September www.regentsparkraces.org. A very friendly race, it is perfect for a run date. There are bananas and cakes for finishers, but for a more romantic post-run breakfast, walk across to nearby Primrose Hill and visit one of the areas many bohemian cafés.
If you have a similar running story to share, please contact Rhalou.Allerhand@wildbunchmedia.co.uk - we'd love to hear from you!

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