- Alexandra Seltzer Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
As Jamie Sheahan approached the finish line of the Fitteam Palm Beaches Marathonon Sunday, she spotted her boyfriend Brendan Smith-Heafy and was happy to see that he finished his race — the half-marathon — and was there to cheer her on.
She had no idea he would soon greet her on one knee with a diamond in hand after she crossed the line.
“He knew not to stop me before I finished,” a gleeful Sheahan said.
The couple came from Burlington, Vt. to West Palm Beach for the marathon and to celebrate Sheahan’s 30th birthday on Monday. Smith-Heafy said he proposed at the race because the two love to run together. They’ve dated for four years.
“It’s a passion of ours,” he said. “It’s a fitting moment.”
The marathon, which returned after a two-year hiatus, brought a close to a three-day series of events that began Friday with the Bill Bone 5K, and included fireworks and a concert by rock band Sister Hazel. Ken Kennerly’s K2 Sports Ventures bought the race and brought in Fitteam as the name sponsor. Kennerly is executive director of the Honda Classic PGA golf tournament in Palm Beach Gardens.
For the first time in race history, the course went into Palm Beach. Racers crossed the Intracoastal Waterway on the Flagler Memorial Bridge into Palm Beach and then returned to West Palm on the Royal Park Bridge.
“It was a great day,” said Kennerly. “It was a fabulous culmination of the three-day marathon weekend.”
A threat of flooding from the high tides caused planners to decide Saturday to start the race 15 minutes later than scheduled. The tides turned out not to be a problem, and Kennerly said he received “great comments” from the runners about the Lake Trail and the scenery.
However, there were hiccups regarding course navigation — issues Kennerly said he plans to remedy.
Kennerly hopes to bring the marathon to Palm Beach again next year.
Among the sea of runners: A man running barefoot; a woman holding a sign that read “Goal 3:00” (yes, she did it); and a man pushing a stroller with two children inside.
Samuel Luttier, 22, of West Palm Beach came in first of the men in the full at 2:33:26, and Joshua Ortiz, 17, of Loxahatchee in the half at 1:20:06.
Luttier lives on Flagler Drive along the course and said he waved at his house, particularly at his 5-month-old English Springer Spaniel named Cooper, when he passed by.
This was his first time winning a marathon and he said he was grateful for the good weather and lack of wind.
For many, the race was more than a physical and mental game.
It was the first time golf legend Annika Sorenstam ran a half marathon. While she’d like to run again next year, the winner of 89 worldwide victories, now retired, doesn’t expect this to be her new sport of choice.
U.S. Army veteran Nathan Rimpf hand-cycled the half marathon with dozens of other disabled athletes under Achilles International. Rimpf, who turned 30 on Sunday, served in the Army from 2010 to 2014 and while in Afghanistan in 2012 stepped on an enemy land mine and had to have both legs amputated. He didn’t care what time he finished at, he was just happy to hear the cheers from the crowd and see the sun rise over the Intracoastal.
And for Kristel Murray, 33, and her friends, it was a moment of celebration when they needed it the most.
Murray’s father Christian has leukemia. She tried giving healthy cells to her father but she reacted poorly and has been sick for the past few months. She had to stop training and decided she wasn’t going to run, but came down to West Palm from Quebec to cheer on her friends. On Saturday with some help from her girlfriends, she decided to go for it.
Her friends met her at the finish line of the half marathon with tears, cheers and hugs. She planned to Facetime with her dad to surprise him and tell him not only did she run, but she completed it.
“It’s going to be a big surprise,” she said. “It was a big surprise for me. I didn’t know I could make it.”