For Greg B. (50), the Madison Half Marathon has marked important new chapters in his life. After training for his first Madison Half Marathon as a way to deal with the strain of a marriage that was coming to an end, his journey came full circle last year when he proposed to his girlfriend after running the race. (Spoiler alert: She said yes.)
Focal Flame Photography, official race photographers for the 2015 Madison Marathon events, talked to Greg about his love of running and about surprising his love Heidi.
Focal Flame Photography (FFP): How many Madison Marathons have you run?
Greg: I have run the Madison Half Marathon every year since 2009.
FFP: How many total marathons or half marathons have you run?
Greg: I have run the Madison Half Marathon 6 times this year will be number 7. [The Madison Marathon] is the only half marathon I have run.
FFP: With so many races to choose from, why do you consistently participate in the Madison Marathon?
Greg: A couple of reasons: First of all the location, it’s only 35-40 minutes from my house. Secondly, with the race in May, it forces me to get out and run/train during the winter months. I am a CPA and am super busy from January to April 15th, so forcing me to run/stay active helps me focus and be more productive at work as well.
FFP: Do you have any goals when running this race?
Greg: I just try to stay under 2 hours every year I run it. I have done that every year except for the year it was so hot and muggy that the race got closed down.
FFP: Do you do anything to make the race more meaningful or fun?
Greg: I have run with numerous friends/family over the years. This year I talked a friend of mine from Elkhorn to join me. Sharing this by running with friends/family makes it much more fun. It gives you more people to share the experience with after its over and throughout the year.
Also, the reason I decided to run the half marathon the very first year was that I was going through a divorce and the running/training helped me deal with the stress I was feeling. Last year after the half marathon was over, I surprised my girlfriend and proposed to her. I had both of my college-age daughters there and one of my daughter’s boyfriends. They were in on the surprise. After the run was over, we went and stood out of the way under a shady tree, and I turned around took off my sweaty shirt and put on one that said “Heidi, will you marry me.” I turned back around, and when she saw my shirt she dropped her water bottle and couldn’t believe it. Everyone standing around our area started clapping for us. It was a great experience/memory. Running in this race has come full circle for me -from running to deal with the stress of divorce to having great memories of my fiancé saying yes when I asked her to marry me.
FFP: Is there anything else about your journey as a runner that you would like to share?
Greg: I am not a serious runner, but participating in this race annually keeps me in decent shape. I believe in training in moderation, so as long as I continue to keep my time under 2 hours each year despite getting older, I will be happy.
FFP: What would you tell other racers about participating in the Madison Marathon?
Greg: One of the biggest reasons I run this race is the awesome atmosphere on race day. It just feels like a very healthy, clean environment where everyone is cheering for you and it feels like one big family. All of the people cheering and encouraging you along the race route is great as well. I would highly encourage anyone who is thinking about running in this race to just do it. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment when it’s over - especially if I hit my time goal.
This article is part of a series featuring athletes who are participating in a Madison Marathon event in 2015. Focal Flame Photography is honored to serve as official photographers for the Madison Marathon. All participants will receive free FocalShare™ digital race photos, brought to you by the event organizers. The Spring Madison Marathon events will occur on May 23 and 24 on the streets of Wisconsin's capitol city. For more information or to register, visit Madison Marathon.
- by Erin Patterson