Lovers who run together, stay together

  • Feb. 12, 2016 8:01 a.m.

Dating another runner has never crossed my mind.

Take it from me, there are just too many reasons not to delve into that dating pool.

Runners tend to get slightly obsessive with all things running. If you’re not a runner, it can be annoying and tiresome.

Watch out if your partner is injured. You will never hear the end of it. We tend to get whiny and bitchy when we’re forced to take it to the sidelines.

No amount of “take some rest” or “listen to your body” will calm down the crazy.

There’s also the sweaty hugs, ugly feet and constant chatter about paces, races and splits.

Oh the list goes on.

Since it is the season for love, I asked one of Red Deer’s happy running couples – if those who sweat together, stay together?

Runners Liz Hagell, 60, and Neil Kirkwood, 62, met and fell madly in love at grad school at the University of Alberta in the early 1980s.

With only good intentions in mind, Neil signed up for a women’s studies course. He was the only male student in the class and as luck would have it Liz and Neil quickly became friends and eventually life partners.

They have been together for 30 years and have lived in Red Deer since 1989.

Running came late to them as a couple.

It was four years ago when friends encouraged Liz to take a learn-to-run clinic.

Feeling a little sluggish and a little chubby, Liz jumped at the chance to run with friends. The 60-year-old didn’t like running when she was in her 20s but she seized the opportunity.

Watching from the sidelines, Neil noticed the positive changes in his companion. In his younger days, Neil used to hit the trails but life got in the way.

“I just saw Liz getting healthier and healthier in front of my eyes,” he remembered. “Weight melted off and she was feeling much better.”

At the time, Neil was semi-retired from teaching at Lindsay Thurber and was taking blood pressure pills.

That fall, Neil joined a learn-to-run class. Not long after the twosome began hitting the road together and the rest is history.

They often travel for destination races where they can enjoy the sights and sounds of the city before running a half-marathon, their distance of choice.

“We are very supportive of one another,” said Liz. “He will encourage me and I will encourage him. We help motivate each other.”

Neil said there has never been the slightest hint of competition between the two. Some couples say it is an issue but not for them, he said.

“I don’t have to beat her but I do have to keep up to her,” laughed Neil.

Some days Liz is faster while other days Neil has the wind at his back.

“We started running late so we have a good sense of one another,” said Neil. “That carries over into running.”

On their runs, they talk about domestic things like do they need to pick up toilet paper but mostly it is about enjoying the time together and the outdoors.

So I had to ask. Has running improved their intimate life?

Liz responds with a laugh, “Let’s just say we are just healthier and fitter.”

Enough said.

Find Running with Rhyno on Facebook and @CrystalRhyno on Twitter. Send your column ideas, photos and stories to crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

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