Big Sky Run Company is an independent running store opening next month in Winnipeg that was founded in love. Owners Caroline Fisher and Josh Markham, pictured above, were both university athletes and a friend connected them fifteen years ago. “Oh, you’re a runner. How fast do you go?” Fisher remembers asking Markham at Cousins, a local bar popular with kids from the university. “We started running together and eventually running together meant ‘running and breakfast’ and ‘running and Scrabble in the park’ and, well, the rest is history—we’ve been married ten years.”
Still feeling the warm fuzzies from Valentine’s Day, and trying to connect with the heart of our sport, we reached out to readers and asked them what is it about their running shoes that connects soles to soulmates. Many of our readers met their match on a run.
“My husband and I met at a local running store that had a Thursday night run. We continued running every Thursday night until I couldn’t push our two boys in the stroller because they got too big. To this day, our favourite date includes a run. This year will be sixteen years together,” said Megan-Workman-Major, a reader in Thunder Bay.
“I met Noel Paine when we both became ambassadors for Ottawa Race Weekend. Running is what connected us, and we’ve been together ever since,” said Ottawa’s Nina Ryan, pictured above.
Marathoner Iana Kotliarova said: “My boyfriend and I met through Midnight Runners Toronto at the start of the pandemic. Still running a year later and we ran the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon together! Next stop is the Chili Half and then Boston for him this year and, next year, Boston for me!”
It makes sense that hormones should fly on the run: people are perspiring, endorphins kick in; in the summertime, you’re barely clad—plus, there’s shared lifestyles, common goals, plenty to talk about, mutual interests and friends, and all those post-race beers. Who else will empathize with your taper crazies? Holidays in Berlin or Tokyo and forgetting about all-inclusives. Runners like going somewhere far and expensive—dedicating our vacation time to eating spaghetti and bagels, pushing ourselves on a run.
“I think for any couple it’s nice to have a goal, but running gave us something we could share and provided a shorthand: whether recovering from an injury or dealing with post-marathon blues, it’s a language we have in common,” explains Big Sky’s Caroline Fisher. “I think it’s probably the same for two musicians who are partners—somehow on a deeper level, runners intuitively understand what another runner values. Between Josh and I, running is an anchor for the relationship we share.”
We’ve long since wanted to create something like a Missed Connections portal on Sportstats, taking a page from Craigslist, which was a personals section where singles described the person they saw, but couldn’t muster the courage to meet. How many times have you seen someone at a race or a run and thought: Wow, if only I was as fast as her, we could fall in love?
“I remember running the Philly Marathon and saw this gorgeous guy running much faster than me. I tried to keep up with him,” says Joanne Merrett, “but unfortunately I didn’t catch him. I never saw him again.”
Hope springs eternal in running, and we’re always trying to find something different, whether it’s in a new training program, race, or shoe. You have to be optimistic to be a runner. Why else would you spend six months chasing a dream? In that same sense, you also need hope to embark on a relationship, to settle down with someone, to open a store like Caroline and Josh in Winnipeg, or be like Megan and her partner, and have two kids. How does running, like love, keep you hopeful? Last week, we started a contest with On, the great Swiss shoe brand, and asked readers to share how running made them feel good. We’re going to extend this contest through Friday. Tell us how running gives you hope, and On will set two lucky winners up with socks, headband and a toque.
We still have a ways to go to get through winter. Share how running makes you hopeful—and smile at the next stranger you see who just might make you want to share closet space for your sneakers for life.