Wednesday 11 December 2019

26 miles... and then a proposal

A selfie taken by Alex Prior just after he proposed to his partner Jess Seldon (front pink jumper) during the London Marathon.
A selfie taken by Alex Prior just after he proposed to his partner Jess Seldon (front pink jumper) during the London Marathon.

While many of the 36,000 runners tackling today's London Marathon battled fatigue, dehydration and painful blisters, 25-year-old Alex Prior had something altogether more taxing on his mind - a shock proposal to his girlfriend.

The keen athlete spent 26 nervous miles pounding the capital's streets before spotting partner Jess Seldon cheering him on from behind a barrier as the race's end drew near.

Unaware of Mr Prior's hidden intentions, Miss Seldon, 27, said she was aghast as her boyfriend took a detour to embrace her with the finish line just 200 metres away.

But rather than give her a high-five - as friends had told her he would - Mr Prior somehow summoned the energy to make it down on one knee and ask for her hand in marriage. She accepted.

And the Football Association project manager said the two-minute rest stop was "fantastic", but joked: "It ruined my chances of a personal best."

Mr Prior, who was running for the InterActive charity, which helps disabled people get involved in sport, said: "I had been planning this for months and my best friend Chris was waiting nearby with the ring.

"I approached him, took the ring and made it over to Jess.

"She was completely surprised, I don't think she knew what I was doing - although I had spoken to her parents and mine beforehand, so they were there and knew what was going on.

"I tried to get down on one knee, to be traditional, but it was obviously pretty difficult.

"It was fantastic, almost surreal - so much so that I had to text her at the end and ask if she meant to say 'yes'."

Mr Prior, who is originally from Guildford in Surrey, and his fiance, a civil servant from Brighton, have been a couple since meeting at university in London four years ago.

Miss Seldon, who fought back tears as her boyfriend proposed, said: "I had no idea what he was going to do.

"I know that makes me sound very stupid because everybody else seemed to know what was going on, but I had no clue whatsoever.

"Alex is very romantic and he has done special things before, but this was incredible.

"We had loads of friends and family there, it was a beautiful day, we were enjoying the marathon - this made it perfect."

Mr Prior, who ran in a time of 3:23:50 - seconds off the personal best he set in Oslo last year - said the day was "special", but that he would not compete at the London Marathon again.

He said: "This meant everything, but I don't think racing in London would be the same. Doing it again would be different, so I am happy to leave it with the memories from today."

:: Mr Prior's fundraising continues at virginmoneygiving.com/AlexPrior

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