LIFE, they say, is a marathon, not a sprint. And Sandra Russell's life reached a significant milestone immediately after she finished the Cork City marathon yesterday afternoon.
The 30-year-old from Killorglin in Kerry was met at the finishing line by her boyfriend, John Broderick.
And he promptly dropped to one knee after presenting Sandra with her medal, and produced an engagement ring.
John had finished the run 20 minutes earlier and nervously waited for his partner.
"This was Sandra's first marathon. I'm so proud of her for finishing and I wanted to give her the perfect end to a perfect marathon for both of us," he said.
His new fiancee struggled to take it all in.
"I thought I might have some chance to finish the marathon but I never thought he'd ask me to marry him, ever," Sandra said.
Around 8,500 people ran the marathon in conditions described as "perfect".
One of the finishers was a 75-year-old grandmother who completed the race ahead of an Irish Olympic silver medalist.
Kay O'Riordain from Wexford completed her 102nd marathon in front of the unfortunate Sonia O'Sullivan, who had to pull up after four miles with a calf injury.
"Last year I almost got hypothermia," said Mrs O'Riordain. "Either way, I always finish."
And so did Sonia. The former world champion walked the rest of the route after her injury, finishing in just over five hours.
"This was my first full marathon in a decade and I enjoyed myself hugely," she said.
"The atmosphere on the course was extraordinary. Thanks to everyone for coming out. They gave me great motivation."
Meanwhile, a new course record was set in the men's race as Moldovan Sergio Ciobanu of Clonliffe Harriers crossed the line in 2:25:34.
Angela McCann from Clonmel won the women's race in a time of 2:53:31, in only her sixth marathon.