The Boston Marathon is a celebrated event in Massachusetts every year. After months of training, runners from all over the globe come together to complete 26.2 miles. ‘Marathon Monday,’ as it has been dubbed, has served as the setting for many marriage proposals over the years. But Walter Brown, a marathoner from Utah, decided to take a unique approach. Rather than wait until April 18 – the day of the 120th Boston Marathon, Brown got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend, Bethany Ericksen, the day before the race. He popped the all-important question at the Boston Marathon finish line, which he would be running across the next day.
So what goes through the minds of two marathoners who have just gotten engaged? The Knot caught up with the bride and groom-to-be runners not long after they crossed the finish line to find out.
Brown met Ericksen several years ago through a local Utah half marathon. It’s no surprise that he chose a big race to propose to his runner girlfriend. “I chose the Boston Marathon finish line as a proposal idea several years ago,” he shared. “I joked to friends if I was to propose it’d be there, because it was my favorite marathon and how cliche it would be to drop to one knee on the [finish] line.”
Brown recorded a video of the surprise proposal; before popping the question, he joked with fellow Utah racers: “If you wanna see your sweetheart… at their absolute worst, then you can come to this finish line.” he laughed.
The future groom explained to The Knot that he was “planning on doing it anyway and asked for permission from BAA (Boston Athletic Association). They told me it was possible if I ran with [Bethany] the whole time and hurried at the finish because security was heavy, and they try to keep things moving.”
“Utah has a great running community and posted a meet up Sunday afternoon before the race for a group picture,” he explained. “I rethought how cool it would be to propose in front of my running peers! So I made it happen.”
Brown admitted that he was “extremely nervous” before he made his move. “I hired a photographer to capture the moment, and before the proposal he said I was a freaking mess,” he shared. “I got to the finish line and there was a bigger group than I expected. Besides the large Utah group, there were thousands of runners from all over the world there with the same idea of seeing the finish line and getting pictures on it before the marathon the following day. I started to panic at that point, because I wondered how I would be able to make it work.”
Although he may have had doubts about pulling off the proposal, Brown explained there was a break in the marathon crowd. He used his camera to live stream the proposal for his parents and Facebook friends to see. He was so full of nerves, he slipped his new fiance’s engagement ring onto the wrong hand. “Luckily she switched it discreetly to save my bacon,” he shared with The Knot.
How was the newly engaged bride-to-be feeling as Brown got down on one knee? “We were at brunch just before the proposal with Walter’s aunt and Dennis- a photographer who I thought was invited to take a group picture of all the runners from our home state of Utah in Boston for the marathon,” she told us. “Walter was acting a bit out of sorts, but I didn’t think too much of it. We had to leave in the middle of our meal to take the group picture. After gathering for the group picture, Walter and I were wishing good luck to all our friends and fellow runners. Walter came over to me, grabbed my hands and told everyone he had an announcement.”
“At that point I knew what was going on and I was super excited and nervous” Ericksen continued. “My hands were shaking. What an awesome moment to share with all my running friends! I also have a dear friend who moved to Oklahoma several years ago from Utah. She happened to be in Boston for the marathon. Walter invited her to be at the proposal which was very special to me.”
Although Ericksen gave viewers a brief glimpse of her engagement ring in the video, it’s difficult to see. “It’s a generic ring I got for the proposal,” her soon-to-be husband told us. “We are going to personalize it together.”
Individuals who run in the Boston Marathon must qualify to run the race. Although Brown had an elite running number, which would put him ahead of his fiancee, he chose to run with her instead. “We ran nice and easy together,” he told The Knot.
This was Brown’s 6th Boston Marathon; he told us it’s magical every year. He described this year as “awesome.” “I took my Go Pro camera and filmed every mile marker and some of the key places where the crowd support is awesome. It was fun, and I had a great time getting the crowd to react when they saw I was filming. As far as a date, we haven’t set one but hope to have it this year. We have only joked about some fun ideas to get married at the marathon finish.”