Leiper’s Fork, TN – Running friends Kevin Miller and Kathleen Watson found more than they bargained for one hot day in June, 2013.
At the inaugural running of the then-named Franklin Half Marathon, six runners from Murfreesboro carpooled to Leiper’s Fork to participate in the first half marathon in Williamson County. “Kathleen and I had run a few times before in group runs with others, so we ran this race with the rest of our friends from Murfreesboro,” recalls Kevin. Kathleen went on to finish the race seven minutes ahead of Kevin that day.
Out of coincidence the pair found each other among 104 other runners on October 3, 2013 in Winchester, TN at the Southern Plunge Marathon. Kevin finished in 5:22.40 and Kathleen sped away again at the end to finish in 5:16:52.
In the Spring of 2014, Kathleen asked Kevin on an official “date” to run the Franklin Half again, finishing “together.” By now their running rendezvous had cultivated into a dating relationship. Remembering the 2013 race, Kevin sped away at the end to finish 28 seconds before her.
“The one event that has always been in common for us is the Franklin Half Marathon.” -Kevin Miller
2015 the couple had to continue the streak, despite a nagging calf injury holding Kevin back. “I was nursing a calf-injury and so she stayed behind with me to make sure I could make it all the way coming down the final stretch. It was really tough as I was cramping up and struggling through the whole last 1/2 of the race, but she stayed with me the entire time for encouragement.” This year, they crossed the finish line together, as a couple.
The 2016 half marathon has been renamed to Hillbilly Half Marathon and Kevin and Kathleen are going to continue the streak, however, more than the race name will be changed; Kathleen will be running as Kathleen Miller instead of Watson. The couple decided that weathering three Franklin Half Marathons is more than enough to prove they are the perfect match. They were engaged in September and wed at the Belmont Mansion on January 27, 2016. The couple honeymooned in the tropical paradise of Antigua.
“The one event that has always been in common for us is the Franklin Half Marathon,” said Kevin. “We have both looked forward to this race as a challenge and fun event – particularly after last year’s addition of the dueling banjos at mile two.”
“We went from acquaintances to ‘running buddies’ to best friends to ‘soul-mates’ over those many long training miles,” said Kathleen. “The Franklin Half Marathon (now Hillbilly Half) is something we both look forward to every year, not only for the beautiful course, and wonderful experience, but also because it was the first race we ran together. We are both looking forward to continuing our ‘streak’ running this race, and hope to see it continue for many years to come. ”
Congratulations, Kevin and Kathleen! May there be many miles together in your future!