Finish line sign sweetens race for D.C. runner

Sebastian Grund had two surprises as he neared the Pittsburgh Marathon finish line. One was that he hadn’t hit “the wall” late in the race. The other was a sign.

“If you finish, I’ll marry you.”

To splash some cold water on any romantic tension, he and Katharina Bergant were already planning to get married, so it wasn’t a finish line proposal. Plus, after a half-hour deluge in the middle of the marathon, Grund had already felt plenty of cold water against his face.

But it was still a thrill for him to come down the last mile and see her.

“I expected the last three miles to be the hardest, but there were more and more spectators, and then I saw Katarina with that funny sign,” he said.

Meanwhile, as she waited for Grund, Bergant had to fend off some interest.

“Two ladies stopped me and asked if the sign was for anyone specific because they had sons who were running their first marathon and were about to finish,” she said.

While Grund had mused about wanting some motivation, Bergant’s inspiration struck the night before the race. She and the couples’ friends left him asleep in their hotel room and retreated to the roof with some supplies they bought.

She crafted her message in red and white, matching the couple’s native Austrian flag.

The next morning, while Grund worked his way through the rain and the puddles on his way to a 3:09:51 finish, Bergant and their friends lounged in the hotel before coming out to the finish.

“I sent him off in his beautiful trash bag poncho and I went back to sleep for two hours,” she said.

Though they weren’t able to get around the course to see Grund as much as they’d hoped, everyone came away with the results they wanted.

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