Love was in the air at the fourth annual ESi Ironman 70.3 Augusta. While most of the triathletes spent their energy covering a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run, a pair of couples competing in the triathlon also found time to get engaged on the streets of downtown Augusta.
Ironman competitors Patrick Anderson from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and Patrick McGee from Tampa, Fla., each decided to pop the question as part of their race day plans. After completing the race, both men waited at the finish line for their girlfriends. The smiles said it all.
“Overwhelmed. Surprised,” said Tori Brook, who was greeted by McGee at the finish line. “I was having a great day already.”
Race officials awarded participation medals to competitors once they completed the race, but McGee arranged to give Brook the medal himself.
The two embraced for a few moments at the finish line as Brook soaked in the completion of her first-ever Ironman event. McGee didn’t rush the proposal, but eventually whispered to his girlfriend to look down at the medal around her neck. The engagement ring was attached.
“I’ve been planning this since we registered, which was in March,” McGee said. “When we met she was training for a marathon and I was training for the Ironman, so this was how the conversation started with her.”
Anderson didn’t wait until he reached the finish line to pop the question. The 38-year-old proposed with a message printed on his jersey that his girlfriend, Rebecca Thomas, saw as the two passed each other in opposite directions on the overlapping running course.
Anderson scouted out the spot for the in-race proposal but had to slow his pace a little so his girlfriend would see him.
“I had to wait about a minute for her,” he said.
When she finally rounded the corner, Thomas saw Anderson waiting for her.
“Becca will you marry me?” read the front of the shirt, followed by another message on the back. “I’ll be waiting for you at finish. Don’t bonk.”
Becca said yes and both competitors parted ways at 12th and Broad streets to finish the race. Anderson finished with a time of just under five hours and had to wait for his fiancee to finish a little more than an hour later.
“I was happy, but I was thinking I still have most of this left to run,” she said. “I had to keep going and finish.”
Both finish-line embraces came while a steady rain fell over downtown Augusta as the daylong event wrapped up. Cooler temperatures in the morning gave way to overcast skies in the afternoon with precipitation that started as a drizzle and increased just as the race’s award ceremony started at 4 p.m.