CINCINNATI - Applause echoed in the race recovery area as Joe Schmithorst got on his knee and pulled out a small white box with a diamond ring inside, which he presented to a tearful Andrea Schmaelzle. The couple had just completed the Flying Pig Half Marathon—their first—before Schmithorst popped the question and Schmaelzle said "yes."
Schmithorst said he was more nervous about asking Schmaelzle to marry him than running the race.
"The whole two hours, it's all I was thinking about," the Cincinnatian said.
Schmithorst and Schmaelzle, both tired after finishing the race, welcomed cheers from others runners as their families joined them to celebrate their new engagement.
"We ran the half and she beat me, but I'm alright with that," Schmithorst said.
They newly-engaged weren't the only couple that ran the race side-by-side. Amanda and Austin Jacoby have been married for more than a year and ran the Flying Pig Half Marathon together, pushing each other each step along the course.
Austin said his high energy helped his wife through the 13.1 miles and Amanda admitted his encouragement allowed her to stay focused.
"If I get her mad at me, it's long enough for her to not be mad at her legs," he said.
The couple from Knoxville, Tenn., ran the Pig for the first time, but says they are hoping to make it back to Cincinnati to run the race annually.
Other runners used the crowd's enthusiasm as motivation throughout the race.
Chad Dennis of Grove City, Ohio, took on his first Flying Pig Half Marathon after running in the four-person relay in 2012. He said the cheering crowd helped him make it through the toughest parts of the course.
"The cheering really helped push you through," Dennis said. "People take the time to read your bib and say your name."
Another runner, Stacie Teipel rested with her family after finishing the Flying Pig Half Marathon and smiled after realizing she got a personal record for the course. Teipel, who ran the half marathon last year, said the weather was perfect for the race.
"This was much better [than last year,]" she said. "Especially with sprinkles once in a while."