By Mary & Gregg Earl
When agreeing to share our running journey, two things occurred to us. One, we really didn't have any divine intervention that sparked us to start running, other than signing up for a running program called No Boundaries with Fleet Feet Syracuse, and not really having a clue what that would mean. Running just became part of our lives. Secondly, we really have become a good running couple, which is the reason for us sharing our story.
Over the early years of our running (No Boundaries), we were both part of the program, but we didn't actually run together. Gregg's pace has always been a few groups quicker than Mary's. This is a trend that would continue through NoBo2 10K, and then spill over eventually into the Fleet Feet Syracuse Distance Program. What was important to us was to encourage each other as we learned to become runners.
During our very first 5K, the Jingle Bell run at Onondaga Community College, Gregg went back to encourage Mary after he had finished his own race. This simple act is what being a running couple is really about; we want to be there for each other until we have finished the race, and this simple act went on for each and every one of our runs.
At Gregg's first two half-marathons, in Tampa and Syracuse, Mary was on the course with extra shirts, drinks, hats, and whatever he needed, cheering him through to the end, being there with love and support.
Mary’s aspiration to run her first half-marathon and Gregg’s desire to run his first marathon at Wineglass Marathon & Half Marathon continued our running progression. We trained together at the same time, at the same park, but each got our own work done. During this time, we ran the Good Samaritan 10K, which was our first run running side-by-side. This nearly ended in divorce as we weren't seeing eye-to-eye on how the race was going, but we still finished together (and still married!!). As we arrived at Wineglass, we wished each other the best of luck as we boarded separate buses to go to our respective start lines. Mary was able to complete her first half marathon, running with her good friend Renee, and was there to cheer Gregg as he finished his first marathon, showing that running as a couple doesn't always have to be side-by-side.
Athens, Greece in 2018 was the site of Mary's first marathon and Gregg's second marathon. This was the race that defined us as a running couple to most of our running friends. We trained for this race together, side-by-side, mile-by-mile. Creating runs-to-runs, running 14 miles to the Strathmore 4-Mile run to get our 18-mile run in. Also running seven miles to the Empire Half Marathon to complete our 20-mile run. We were always seen running together pretty much anywhere and everywhere. Once in Athens, we found ourselves seriously out-matched by the course, but by pure determination, and by being what each other needed to keep moving, we conquered that course as couple, stronger in the end than in the beginning.
Now as running couples go, wanting to go further, we signed up to run Mind the Ducks to complete our first Ultra-Marathons. However during the training for this, Mary sustained an ankle injury and had to pull out of the race. This just fueled Mary to give her support lap after lap, after lap, after lap, for 40 laps, cheering not only Gregg through 12 hours of racing but many other runners as well. This day culminated with her walking hand-in-hand with Gregg through the finish line, together, as she was the one who set Gregg up to reach his goal - our goal - and WE did it!
Fleet Feet Syracuse has been a big part of many of the events and stories we shared. Each of us has had coaches that have inspired us, motivated us, and cheered us through lots of miles. We have met so many runners who have become friends, really our best friends. It has allowed us to give back to where we began (No Boundaries); we have both coached multiple sessions. We hope to inspire other runners to become better runners, and maybe even some running couples!