A Marathon and A Proposal


We've known each other for almost seven years now, but started dating only three years ago. We were introduced by a mutual friend, with whom I was working on a website project at that time, and we needed somebody who could assist with copywriting. I'm a web programmer, so producing content is not my cup of tea. She's a good story teller, and had been blogging for a while at that point. She agreed to help us, and that gave us a reason to be in touch on continual basis. We shared personal stories over time, and became closer over the years.
When we were introduced to each other, she said she was working on a gene-related thesis. Interestingly enough, I too was working on a DNA-sequencing programming stuff at that time, so to break the ice I randomly asked "name the four bases for DNA". She, of course, remembers them by heart. So that's how it goes, life begins with DNA, and so did our relationship.

A long distance relationship it turned out, because she is living in Jakarta and I am in Singapore.

And it was a long distance relationship for another reason. I have deep passion in running, having run a couple of marathon and ultra marathons. We have always talked about the possibility of running long distance together, she was an active runner during her secondary school years. She's struggling with chronic injury due to some accident a few years back, so she couldn't run with me just yet. But she's very supportive. And it helps that she likes photography, so whenever she could she would accompany me to running events and snap pictures. That put ideas in my head, it would be a nice surprise if she catches me on her camera carrying a proposal banner!

I have been planning on proposing to her since end of last year, but couldn't find a good moment to do it. That's when the Bali Marathon organizer made the announcement that they will have the event on April 22. It seemed to be the perfect event and place. Bali in my home town, a popular tourist destination associated with exotic places and rich cultures. And it will be the first international-scale marathon event in Indonesia in ages!

I mentioned my intention to the co-race director, and she was really enthusiastic about it. We concocted the plan to have the banner kept at the last water station, and I would pick it up there and then.

I was really nervous about this plan. Well, proposing to your girlfriend in front of big public would not be easy, I guess. Not helping my cause was that I picked up knee injury in the aftermath of Vibram Hongkong 100 Ultramarathon, and was barely able to train in the nine weeks leading to the Bali Marathon. In fact, I managed only four runs, the last one being 6 weeks before the big day. I wasn't sure if I would make it to the finish line in Bali, and at one point wasn't even sure if I would toe the starting line. But the proposal plan took the better of me, and I told myself to start and finish it no matter how slow or how difficult it would be. During the event itself, with every passing km, I imagined myself approaching the finish line with the banner, kneeling down and asking her to marry me. So that thought kept me going. And I had my good friend who stayed put running with me for the entire marathon journey despite of the slow pace.


The last kilometer in a marathon is always the longest and happiest one, and more particularly so in Bali Marathon. I'm glad I finished it, and despite being amongst the last to finish, I got the biggest prize!




Photo Credits:
- Aniza Osman
- Jane Djuarahadi
- Chong Hiu-Yeung