TAMPA — Tampa's Scott Frank was running on legs whose freshness had long since expired when he crossed the finish line of the Gasparilla Distance Classic half-marathon.
Then Frank, 47, stumbled over to see his girlfriend, Jane House. Moments later, Frank dropped to one knee — on purpose.
He cleared his throat, gazed into House's eyes and said the words she longed to hear:
"Will you marry me?"
Shocked and overwhelmed with emotion, House, 47, said yes.
The newly engaged couple then exchanged hugs and kisses as hundreds of people they never met congratulated them.
"This was a complete surprise," House said. "I wish I was dressed better for the occasion."
Frank planned all along to pop the question at the race. The toughest part, he said, was finishing it after recovering from a knee injury.
"I was more nervous about getting across the finish line," said Frank, who finished in 2 hours, 49 minutes, 45 seconds. "I told Jane that I just ran 13.1 miles to ask her to walk down the aisle."
House would have run with her fiance, but she was recovering from bone spurs in her foot. "I hope to run next year," she said.
Time well spent: As if running a half-marathon wasn't enough, Tampa's Fred Dorsey began his weekend by running the 15K and 5K on Saturday.
Dorsey ran the 15K in 58 minutes, 35 seconds. "I had about an hour break and then had to run the 5K," he said.
He finished that race in 19:44. "That was a much harder race, even though it was shorter," he said. "You come off the first race, and you are pretty much spent."
On Sunday, the 52-year-old systems analyst for Verizon ran the half-marathon in 1:30:36.
"That was a tough run as well," he said. "I live on Davis Islands, so I run on Bayshore Boulevard a lot. I have never seen it so windy."
Dorsey was one of about 250 runners to compete in the 15K, 5K and half-marathon — also called the Bud Light Challenge. Dorsey was sixth (2:48:55) behind challenge winner Rick Brown, 32, of Valrico (2:38:04).
Blast from the past: Mike Greiwe, a former cross-country standout at Plant High, finished second in the half-marathon (1:15:13) behind Richie Cunningham. Greiwe, 30, was a state qualifier for the Panthers in 1996 and went on to run for Notre Dame. He lives in Cincinnati, where he is completing his medical residency in orthopedic surgery. "It will be nice to finally finish with school," Greiwe said.
Back on Track: Conventional wisdom says elite distance running is not for the young. Supposedly, it takes years of long training runs to put power in the legs. Conventional wisdom had not been borne out in recent years at the Gasparilla Distance Classic, especially in the men's half-marathon. Before Cunningham, 35, ended the youth streak, the age of the past three winners: 18, 26 and 20.