Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Groom runs marathon on his wedding day

This is Jeff Hartman's idea of a bachelor party: Get up at 6 a.m. Stand in the street in sub-freezing weather with his buddy, Mike Colasurdo, and more than 8,000 other people. Then run 26.2 miles in Charlotte's Thunder Road Marathon.

That's what Hartman did [last] Saturday before his 3:30 p.m. wedding at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, where he teaches exercise science. "I feel like a million bucks," said Hartman, 32, after crossing the finish line with Colasurdo near the NASCAR Hall of Fame uptown.

Hartman's time: 3 hours, 47 minutes. His condition: Soaked in sweat. Smiling. Steady on his feet - unlike some runners who were doubled over in pain or throwing up.

Scrawled across Hartman's shirt in black marker was the message, "Kiss Me! Getting Married Today!" It drew lots of response along the marathon route, and the comments varied by gender. Women usually shouted, "Congratulations," "That's sweet" or "Best of luck." Men offered the warning, "It's not too late!" [Haha, that's typical. Men are always trying to scare each other before a wedding]

Hartman said he got no kisses but did have two offers - one from a male runner dressed as an elf, the other from a woman in her 70s. He didn't slow down long enough to collect either one.

A veteran of seven marathons before Thunder Road, Hartman saw a clear-cut choice about how to spend the hours leading up to his wedding. He could hang out in his basement to avoid seeing the bride getting ready upstairs with her friends and family. Or he could go for the "freedom and joy" of the open road. So he asked his wife-to-be, Shana Woodward, who teaches English at Gardner-Webb, what she thought of a wedding day marathon. "I think it's great," she said. "Just make sure you've got enough energy to walk down the aisle."

The marathon idea hardly surprised her. Hartman proposed to her at the top of Crowders Mountain, where the couple hiked after Hartman had run 10 miles that morning.

On Saturday, the groom didn't try to break any records with his running time, which was short of his personal best of 3 hours, 12 minutes in a Pennsylvania marathon in October. Instead, he aimed for a "nice and easy" pace to leave him with energy for the wedding, reception and, of course, the wedding night.

So after meeting his brother, Rob, and friend Matt Theado at the finish line shortly before noon - the two were sidelined from the marathon bachelor party by injuries - Hartman headed back to his Charlotte hotel. There he showered, changed into his tux and made the 50-mile drive west to Boiling Springs to the campus chapel at Gardner-Webb.

After the wedding, Hartman had a built-in excuse to avoid a reception activity he wasn't crazy about. "I'm a horrible dancer," he said. The race let him do the first dance with his bride - then sit back and rest his legs.

If I ran almost thirty miles on my wedding day, I would use it as an excuse to eat the entire top tier of the cake!


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