Amid the chaos at the Boston Marathon finish line, with ambulance sirens wailing, one couple celebrated their love and married in a ceremony fitting for the two lovers of running.
Robert Watling and Kelli Johnston, both 38, of Dallas, said “I do” at the Boston Public Garden, some six blocks from the marathon’s finish line, just hours after completing the race.
“We’re both really big into running,” Watling told ABCNews.com. “It’s a big important part of our lives.” The two planned a running-themed wedding after getting engaged at the Chicago Marathon last year.
Watling said the couple chose to marry the same day of the Boston Marathon because it’s a special place for the running community.
Fortunately, they reached the race’s finish line before the two bomb blasts, finishing before 3 p.m.
While Watling did not witness the bomb blasts, he said that Johnston heard what she thought were sounds from cook outs or a garbage truck near the finish line.
After they found out about the bombings, the couple was apprehensive about moving forward with their wedding plans and considered other locations.
“We were hesitant. We wanted to be cautious,” Watling said. “We didn’t want anything to destroy our plans that we had made.”
The two decided that the best choice was to move forward.
The bride wore a custom made dress made of moisture-wicking material, typically used in outfits worn by runners, and custom running shoes representing the colors of the University of Nebraska Corn Huskers.
For his tuxedo, Watling donned a “track-xedo,” a track suit modified to look like a tuxedo, representing the Virginia Tech Hokies on his shoes.
Johnston’s father officiated the early evening ceremony, during which, Watling said, there were reminders of the chaos at the marathon. ”There were ambulance sirens and police car sirens all throughout the evening and SWAT team vehicles driving past.”
Their nuptials included five rings made to look like the Olympic rings representing their vows, an Olympic torch, and a replica of the 2013 Boston Marathon finish line, which the couple crossed together as husband and wife.
“It is a mixed day of emotions,” Watling said. ”Marathoning is going to be something that remains special to us.
“As we look back, we’ll be celebrating each other but also remembering the victims and praying for them as well.”