You’ve likely heard that parkrun is as much about building community and building relationships as it is about running or walking. We’ve shared pictures and stories of people celebrating parkrun milestones like earning a V25 shirt or 50 participation shirt. We’ve shared stories of birthday parties at parkrun, personal celebrations of overcoming obstacles and of course the wedding ceremony that took place in Renton last summer.
This is the story of Priscilla and Ray who found each other through parkrun and fell in love! We think it’s the first confirmed instance of love at parkrun for parkrun USA, but we’d love to be wrong- tell us if we are!
Ray Walsh got involved with parkrun because he was looking for things to do outside of work to meet people. His colleague recommended he check out parkrun, so he went to Livonia parkrun in April of 2016. He met some great people who have since become his best friends and he kept going back.
A few months later Priscilla attended her first event. She expressed her interest in improving her fitness to a few of her friends, who encouraged her to try out parkrun.
Both hit up the local post-parkrun coffee spot and sat at the same table with a small group of people. A mutual friend introduced them and they found that they enjoyed talking with each other. Ray said that Priscilla had interesting stories to tell and Ray’s smile and friendly demeanor held Priscilla’s attention. On the way out, he asked if she’d like to trade numbers. They did and ended up texting each other the rest of the day. Shortly thereafter they went out to dinner.
During one of the parkruns that winter, Ray matched his pace to Priscilla’s because he wanted to spend more time with her. They talked throughout and were both excited to get out of the cold and continue the conversation at Biggby, after which they spent the rest of the day together.
Two years after they met, Ray decided to propose and he enlisted his parkrun friends to help.
One of the couples’ hangouts is a place called Basement Burger Bar. They’re friendly with the wait staff and bartenders, so he decided to propose there on the 2nd anniversary of their first date. Their friend Chris Walker (from parkrun) helped Ray came up with the idea of replacing one of the restaurant’s special menus with a customized version that included pictures of the couple. He borrowed some craft supplies from another parkrun friend, Jennifer True Greve, and worked on his project. The last page of the menu instructed Priscilla to order a special bottle of champagne that he renamed Segura, her mother’s maiden name. The proposal was written on the bottle and Ray presented her with her grandmother’s engagement ring.
Their friend Bridget was bar tending and several of the day staff waited around to witness the proposal as well. Several other friends, including friends from parkrun were waiting upstairs, so they came down and celebrated with the couple afterwards.
Though Priscilla decided to explore fitness activities other than running, she often cheers on Ray at his races and maintains friendships with several regular parkrunners. Ray continues to be a frequent parkrunner in Livonia and has now added neighboring Lillie parkrun to his repertoire. With 105 parkruns under his belt, we’re guessing he’s not going to stop anytime soon.
Their wedding date is set for 2020, and when asked if they would be parkrunning the weekend of their wedding, Ray said “I would definitely like to get a parkrun in before the ceremony if there is time. Those details haven’t quite been worked out yet.” We’ll make sure the folks at Livonia have a camera ready if they do!
When we look through the photos from 40-odd parkrun events every week, we love seeing so many happy faces. It’s a great reminder that, despite all of our differences, parkrun brings us together. There’s nothing more powerful than the shared joy of moving our bodies outside, whether it’s in the heat and humidity of Florida…
We all know that parkrun events are free, friendly, forever thanks to the volunteers who make every parkrun happen. Less widely known is that the local teams are supported by the parkrun ambassadors, volunteers who support new and existing events and much more besides. This past weekend the parkrun USA ambassadors team held their…