PLATTSBURGH — Nate Hammaker finished Sunday’s City of Plattsburgh Half Marathon about five minutes ahead of Connie Whalen.
Then he turned back to the finish line, pulled a small box from the pocket of his shorts, and, as Whalen moved toward him, he got down on one knee.
“Oh, my gosh,” she said Monday. “It wasn’t even on my radar.”
Now she’s wearing an engagement ring, a ruby surrounded by tiny diamonds.
The surprise proposal left the Morrisonville couple floating on air and delighted those who witnessed it.
“All our friends came running up to us,” said Whalen, a high-school counselor at Lake Placid Central School.
It was also a fitting stellar moment during an event that participants were determined to experience with joy in the face of the terrorist attacks at the Boston Marathon last week.
“If you spend your time worrying about what crazy people will do, you let them win,” said Jeremy Drowne, who nabbed the men’s division of the Half Marathon for a second year in a row.
The City of Plattsburgh Half Marathon and Relay began with a moment of silence for those who died and were injured when bombs exploded at the Boston finish line.
The song “I’m Shipping Up to Boston,” by Dropkick Murphy, honored the city that endured a terrifying lockdown as authorities searched for a bombing suspect who had escaped a shootout the night before.
There were symbols of solidarity throughout the Plattsburgh race — one woman wore a Boston Red Sox shirt, a whole crowd sported blue T-shirts with the slogan “Running for Boston,” others had pinned on racing bibs that expressed support.
“One guy was dressed from head to toe in red, white and blue,” said Crystal Rodarte, who had researched athletic walking then trained on foot and bicycle to walk all 13.1 miles.