You've heard the expression "running to the altar."
Well, Sara Whittingham, a 1992 graduate of Steamboat Springs High School, and John Langell, originally from Manhattan Beach, Calif., have taken it to another level.
On Sunday, after running the Steamboat Marathon, Whittingham and Langell are getting married at Whittingham's family residence, which, perfectly enough, is located on Moon Hill Drive, otherwise known as the halfway point of the marathon.
"It's something I've been thinking about for a long time," Whittingham said. "When I was growing up, that is the road I ran on with my dad."
Whittingham remains the Sailors' record holder in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters. She and her younger sister Julie Whittingham, who is getting married in three weeks, were part of the record-setting 3,200-meter relay team, as well.
Sara Whittingham, 30, went on to run at the Air Force Academy and has competed in 10 marathons, so the idea of running a distance race isn't out of the ordinary. Running 26.2 miles with his fiancee hours before they become husband and wife is a little different, but Langell couldn't be more excited.
"I was all for it," said Langell, who also is celebrating his birthday Sunday. "I thought it was a great idea. We both just like to do things, but I know she is going to want to beat me. She should. She is the mountain girl."
Whittingham has not previously run the Steamboat Marathon, and Sunday's race will be her fiance's first at altitude. At the midway point, they can find motivation by looking toward the wedding site where they will be hours later, beautifully dressed and "walking, hopefully," Whittingham joked.
Langell suggested the pair wear something during the race to signify the big day, but Whittingham is more reserved.
"We're going to be incognito," she said.
Whittingham said a majority of the wedding party will be running, as well, though most are "just doing" the 10K. Julie Whittingham, the maid of honor, hasn't decided whether she will run but plans to be at the finish line when her sister crosses.
"This is the first time we have been living on the same continent for the last five years," Julie Whittingham said.
Sara Whittingham is an Air Force flight surgeon based at Travis Air Force Base in Northern California. Julie Whittingham, a 1994 SSHS graduate, is in the Air Force reserves and lives in Rochester, N.Y. In the past, when one was living in the United States, the other sister was abroad.
Sara Whittingham met Langell in San Antonio while taking a course for Air Force flight surgeons. Langell is a flight surgeon in the Air Force Reserves and also works as a surgery resident at Stanford.
The 24th annual Steamboat Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K begin at 7:30 a.m. Sunday. All races end at the Routt County Courthouse downtown.