Meet Paul Gill and Abby Evans. Paul and Abby met and got to know each other through running, so it is only fitting that when they run the Madison Half Marathon on May 29, 2016, it will be a week before their June 4 wedding. We caught up with them briefly to learn more about how running has influenced their lives together, and what the Madison Marathon events mean to them.
Focal Flame Photography (FFP): How many Madison Marathon events have you done?
Paul: Abby and I did our first marathon ever during the Madison Marathon of 2010. It was so hot that the marathon was cancelled about three-quarters of the way through but we both stuck it out. We also did the half on a hot event day in 2012.
FFP: Have you participated in other similar events?
Paul: I’ve done the Monona 20K a few times and the inaugural Wausau Marathon back in 2012.
Abby: I have run 2 half marathons, one Madison Marathon Half, the Rock and Sole in Milwaukee, and one full Madison Marathon. I have also done Crazy Legs for several years!
FFP: What does running and participating in events, such as the Madison Half Marathon mean to you?
Paul and Abby: For us, it’s a challenge unlike anything else we deal with on a regular basis in school or at work. But the best part is that we can face the challenge and train with friends. Running has always been a stress reliever for us, and I think its fair to say we are both addicted (in a healthy way, we promise). Withdrawal from running is a real-thing! It’s our chance to get outside of the building, into open air (yes, even when its in the single digits) and let our minds wander wherever. And we always feel better than when we started, we can honestly say I’ve never regretted completing a run. Participating in various events and going for runs is also something we can do as a couple and challenge each other to do our best. It is a great way to spend time together as well.
FFP: With so many races to choose from, why this one?
Paul: Abby grew up in Madison and went here for undergrad and I’ve been in school here for 9 years. We leave for Milwaukee in a few months and wanted to do as many Madison focused things as we could. It also helps that we’re getting married up on the square at the Madison Concourse Hotel on the weekend following the race on June 4, 2016. :-)
FFP: Can you tell us what it has been like to train/prepare for the event? Have you prepared as a couple? What was that like?
Paul: Abby and I have been living in different cities for the last 4 years while we finish school. I will be graduating from UW-Madison 2 weeks before the event with a medical degree and Abby will be graduating from UW-Milwaukee one week before the event with a Doctorate degree in physical therapy. When we’re apart, telling the other person how much we ran that day almost always leads our nightly FaceTime conversation. It’s a healthy competition. Occasionally, if we’re lucky and running at the same time in different places, we’ll try and call each other while on our runs. However, when we’re together, we’ll always set our schedules around a time where we can run together. We do a lot of life-planning on our runs, especially lately with the wedding coming up. I’d say over 50% of our wedding has been planned while out running. We also just added a black lab puppy into our family so excited to begin running with him as well!
FFP: What will it mean to you to participate in the May race?
Paul and Abby: … it will be the culmination of all the miles we’ve put in over the years in Madison. The course goes down many of our favorite running routes and so it will, in some ways, be like a nostalgic farewell tour of Madison (for the time being anyways…)
FFP: Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience?
Paul: Running is how Abby and I got to know each other. We were just two people in a class who, along with a few others, just wanted to go for runs together. Running helped us become great friends. And from that, the rest of it is history.
This article is part of a series featuring athletes or behind-the-scenes staff who are involved in a Madison Marathon event in 2016. Focal Flame Photography is honored to serve as official photographers for the Madison Marathon. All runners will receive free FocalShare™ digital race photos courtesy of the event organizers. The Spring Madison Marathon events will occur on May 28 and 29, 2016 on the streets of Wisconsin's capitol city. For more information or to register, visit Madison Marathon.
- by Suellen Adams