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Photo credit: Mark Cameron.

Valentine’s Day for Runners

14-Feb-18

Last updated: 29-Aug-18

By Alice Morrison

Are you a red roses, lingerie and romantic surprises kind of person? Or, maybe a special dinner out and a heartfelt card? Perhaps, you get original and present your beloved with that new baselayer they’ve been craving and some high-tech calf sleeves. Or, perish the thought, you hate Valentine’s and think it is all a load of commercial nonsense.

However, you celebrate, or don’t, there has to be room in your heart for a little love. Here, we bring you some love stories with a large dash of running, from our RunUltra community.

RUNULTRA_Valentine-s-Day-for-Runners_Suzanne-Smith

Suzanne and Dennis

Dennis and I met several years ago through a running page. We were both in relationships but both loved running. I was fairly new to it, having only started in 2012, but Dennis had clocked up over 40 marathons by then and was known as 'The Machine'.

By the end of 2014 both of our marriages had failed. We still made friendly contact through Facebook and even offered each other some support through our challenging times. It felt as though, despite only ever having met briefly at a running event, we could read each other remarkably well.

Fast-forward to April 2015 and our conversations had become longer and deeper. It was becoming clear we had so much in common, so Dennis decided to risk driving 300 miles to take me on a date! I laughed more that night than I had done in years and we were already starting to fall in love. He bought me champagne and the next day I repaid him with a beautiful run up to Walla Crag.

Despite having little experience on this kind of terrain, Dennis quickly realised it wasn't just me he was falling in love with. He was rapidly picking up my passion for running in the lakes. It was perfect. Before long we realised we were soul mates.

We knew from the beginning that any future together would have to be in Cumbria as I wouldn't move my two boys away. We were always very open and honest. This was very important to us and we tried to be clear about everything.

By August, Dennis was living a double life. During the week he was continuing in his job down south and living in a rented room, and at weekends he was travelling up to the Lake District, having taken out a long-term rent on a property a few miles from me.

In December that year he took the huge gamble to leave his old life and job behind and moved himself completely up to Cumbria. Our relationship grew and gradually we started to bring my boys into the equation. Dennis got a contract here and we felt like our lives had real meaning.

Everything was falling into place. So when we picked up the keys and moved into our beautiful 200 year-old home with spectacular views across the Northern Fells, with my boys and our crazy springer spaniel, the fairy-tale was complete.

Running plays a huge part in our lives. We run together several times per week, as well as separately, belong to a fantastic running club (Eden Runners), enter lots of races together, and support each other at races only one of us can do due to family commitments. We've brought people to the Lakes and taken them running; we encourage the boys to do park runs and fun runs (they love a bit of bling) and we discuss and plan our running wish lists and goals together.

Something we've started doing together is at least one European marathon per year. It gets us to new places and running a marathon is a great way to really take in the sights. We always take our running kit on holiday too as we both love running in new places.

In July 2015 I ran my first challenging ultra - Ultimate Trails 55k. It covers typical Lakeland terrain and incorporates a fair amount of elevation. Dennis had far more distance experience than me at this stage so he came along to support. And what a support he was. He was my absolute rock!! He somehow managed to get to or very near every single checkpoint - no mean feat in a car.

He gave me regular pep talks and at the half-way stage when I'd just done the climb up to Grizedale Hause and was crumbling and sobbing and ready to drop out, there he was waiting for me at Grasmere, with his Big Den hugs and total belief in me. He pretty much marched me - then ran with me - along the road through the village and set me off on route to Silver Howe. By the time he saw me at the next checkpoint he said I was a different runner and all smiles. He stuffed some tablet (a bit like fudge) in my mouth, gave me a kiss, told me how awesome I was and said he'd see me at the next checkpoint.

He kept his promise and was there too at the finish, to capture me crossing the line. What he did that day took a monumental amount of time, effort, driving and planning. But without his unwavering support and belief in me I'm not sure I'd have finished that day. I did alright too!

He is without doubt the most amazing man I've ever met and is constantly picking me up when my running doubts pull me down. We've both grown so much individually as runners, together. In our case, the team is far greater than the sum of its parts. We motivate and inspire each other and feed off each other's passions.

We truly believe we were always meant to be together. And we will be running together long after these mortal bodies have become one with the earth on which we run.

RUNULTRA_Valentine-s-Day-for-Runners_Ashley-Charlwood

Photo credit: Ashley Charlwood.

Ashley and Katie

Back in November 2013, I ran Brecon Ultra in training for Marathon des Sables 2014. The death of a close friend and a failing marriage were giving me a reason to run. Re-reading my blog from the run, it’s lovely to read about meeting Katie for the first time: “Katie led into some single track and I had to ask her whether her odd socks were a superstitious thing. “No” came the answer “they’re a chaotic life thing”. The humour was welcome!

Skip on a year, with only one phone call in between, and Katie was struggling with a very bad back. Bad enough that she may never run again. Over the next six months, it transpired that North Wales, where I lived, was where she was going to be working.

With gentle recovery, Katie made it back to running, and we made it to being a partnership. Our joint love of wild places, mountain running and trail running spawned a new enterprise: “no-mad running” – part soft tissue therapy, part courses, part guiding. We’re also co-authoring a guidebook Welsh Trail Running for Pesda Press.

When you share an understanding of why a 50km trail run on Christmas Day is a good thing to do, there’s not much you can’t understand about sharing a space. We both feel very lucky to have found one another!

Last year Katie said ‘yes’ and we got engaged, with a ring made from wood from the side of the Brecon Ultra trail. Chafe, sweat, DOMs and trail shoes seems to be very much part of our foundation and joint future.

RUNULTRA_Valentine-s-Day-for-Runners_Mark-and-Sally-Cameron

Photo credit: Mark Cameron.

Mark and Sally

I met my wife, Sally, around 23 years ago through a friend, and we've now been married for 14 years. Sally supports my running in many ways. Mentally she gives me motivation to keep going, because I want to be around for as long as possible to enjoy time with her, and running gives me a healthier lifestyle which will enable me to achieve this. 

She also supports me through her patience. I seem to have an ever-growing pile of trainers in the utility room, so much so that we haven't been able to open the door to the side of the house for ages. Then, in the lounge I have a number of foam rollers and other massage tools which I play about on while watching TV in the evenings. She works hard to keep our home tidy but, somehow, she tolerates these things. 

Finally, she supports me through nutrition, growing fresh produce in our allotment then baking fabulous cakes for what I call "refuelling" after runs and races.

This loving support definitely contributes to our love for each other. We have developed a mutual respect for what each other achieves and for what each other tolerates. She’s done so many romantic running things for me from regularly massaging my legs and backside when I'm suffering, to baking a running birthday cake which even had a medal on it.

What makes our love work?  That's easy, respect for each other and teamwork.

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