A Queen Village resident popped the question to his girlfriend after completing the race.
As he covered the 19th Philadelphia Marathon’s course Sunday, Matt Bean experienced intense emotions, including pain, as his taxed feet helped him to travel 26.1 miles in four hours. While his lower extremities ached, his heart gained strength and yearned to reveal its affection. He let it do so right after completing the race, as he proposed to girlfriend Jackie Seigle, who immediately gave an affirmative answer.
“I had thought of a couple other ideas, but since running has meant so much to us, I knew today would be the best choice,” the resident of the 700 block of South Third Street said Sunday evening as he and his partner reflected on their 11-month union. “I’m so thrilled I will be spending the rest of my life with Jackie.”
The Bensalem native met former Phoenixville dweller Seigle, now an inhabitant of the 600 block of South 18th Street, through an online dating site and knew she would win his love soon after their first outing Dec. 28. Not desiring to delay destiny, he contacted the City last month to determine the feasibility of requesting her hand at the marathon and received his lifetime’s second-most cherished “yes.” He then needed to deflect speculation from his mate, who had suspected Bean would select the local contest after Hurricane Sandy had cancelled the New York City event.
“I was to run in New York and thought Matt would do it there,” the South of South resident said. “I then started thinking Philly would be it, but he told me not to be disappointed if it didn’t happen, so it was far from my mind as the day began.”
Seigle, 28, instead focused on finding her beau in the crowd, as he came in 4,822nd out of 11,427 finishers. Upon reuniting with him, she felt so proud that she failed to notice he was holding a box. Though the location offered novelty, Bean opted for a traditional delivery, going down on one knee to ask Seigle to fortify their bond.
“It was a beautiful moment,” the romantic Bean, who turned 30 Tuesday, said of witnessing his love’s reaction.
“I was so overwhelmed with happiness and gratitude for finding Matt,” Seigle said, reaching for his hands as she noted she had been waiting her whole life for someone to capture her heart. “I decided to let myself be surprised, and he definitely came through.”
The lovebirds, who both moved to South Philly in 2011, became the darlings of those in the marathon’s media tent and soon took to their own social media options and phones to notify their families and friends, thinking that the likelihood of their tale appearing on television or the Internet would make keeping their news a secret until today’s planned Thanksgiving gathering a virtual impossibility. Their naturally curious acquaintances inquired about a wedding date, with Bean giving an instant response.
“We’ve been engaged for only a few hours,” he said. “We’re both too tired to think about much more than catching up on sleep. All in good time.”
The two chose to make individual moves to South Philly for its amenities and prospects. Calling on technology to help their chances of securing amore, they found their mutual interest in running an undeniable connector and learned their other passions and pursuits contained enough similarities to merit continued courtship. Running, with its individual components, though, ironically set the pace for their relationship.
“I loved finding someone who could understand its demands,” Seigle, who began running years ago to assist her since-successful weight loss goals, said. “It is an activity that challenges a person to determine how far he or she can go.”
“I feel it gives a person a supreme sense of accomplishment,” Bean added. “It is a gateway to improved discipline.”
The betrothed athletes have ventured as far as California for competitions, with December’s Las Vegas half marathon and January’s Walt Disney World half marathon in Florida to test them next. Aside from committing to each other, they also have vowed to venture to Virginia in February for a Valentine’s Day race, fitting since officials promote the state as a great location for lovers. Throughout their partnership, Bean, a sales manager for a University City utility company, and Seigle, an online media manager for a security magazine, have made their true vocations acquiring as much knowledge about each other as possible.
“We have so much that brings us together, including the fact that she loves to cook and I love to eat,” Bean said with a laugh. “To think we will have so much time for so many more discoveries really puts me in a great place emotionally. As I ran, I kept thinking my life, our lives, now, will be a testament to true love’s power.”
Randy Giancaterino, of the Office of the City Representative/Commerce Department, said his employer receives proposal requests every year.
“Helping Matt and Jackie to share their love is something we really wanted to make happen,” he said.
Seigle had contemplated canvassing the city, too, but chose to support her future groom by offering cheers as he battled fatigue while simultaneously fostering hope for his moment in the sentimental spotlight.
“I went the old-fashioned route,” Bean, who received a medal for finishing the endurance endeavor, said of his decision. “I’m just thrilled she said ‘Yes’ to my sweaty self.”
Seigle, who has lost 80 pounds through her beloved pastime, can now credit it with helping her to gain her eventual husband.