Video: Norfolk man proposes during London Marathon... and she doesn’t run a mile!

Karl Walker proposing to Tracy Orsanakos at the London Marathon. Karl Walker proposing to Tracy Orsanakos at the London Marathon.

Andrew Papworth andrew.papworth@archant.co.uk
Friday, April 18, 2014
10:40 AM

Anyone who plucks up enough courage to ask the question: “Will you marry me?” always hopes their partner won’t run a mile.

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Decent proposals

As the curtain closed on last year’s Cromer summer show season, 25-year-old Roseanna Paul popped the question to Ricky James McWee in the theatre bar of the Pier Pavilion having been announced by show comedienne Jo Little. Ricky, 19, said yes to the proposal, to cheers from the cast, crew and show supporters.

Estate agent Steve English popped the question to his long-term sweetheart Hayley Groves with a full-page advert in the Eastern Daily Press.

The 34-year-old from Wickford, Essex, was enjoying a break at the Heacham Manor Hotel at Heacham, with his girlfriend in April last year.

When the couple set out for Holkham for a picnic, Mr English made sure he picked up a copy of the EDP.

After they got to the beach, Mr English suggested his 27-year-old partner took a flick through the paper, as he got down on bended knee. Miss Groves agreed there and then on Holkham Beach. “It was a shock more than anything,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting it at all.”

A woman from Coltishall was literally swept off her feet when her boyfriend proposed to her during a romantic helicopter ride.

Adam Burton, 40, spent three months planning the elaborate stunt, which began when his girlfriend, Klare Thomas, also 40, was picked up from her place of work at The Attic Hair Studio.

She was then driven from Coltishall, blindfolded, to Norwich International Airport where she found Mr Burton standing next to a helicopter.

He said: “I fly in helicopters all the time but Klare had never been in one.

“We’ve talked about them a lot so I thought I would get her to have a ride and couple the proposal with it.”

So when Karl Walker proved he was most definitely in it for the long run by proposing to his sweetheart Tracy Orfanakos while in the middle of competing for this year’s London Marathon, he was only too relieved when she said yes.

The 42-year-old, of Mount Pleasant Drive, East Harling, came up with the idea of proposing to his longtime partner at the halfway point of the 26.2-mile race around the streets of the capital while hard in training for the event.

But the romantic moment – which was captured on camera by relatives – nearly never happened after the two star-crossed lovers failed to find each other among the crowds of people cheering on the passing runners at Tower Bridge.

Unable to pop the question, Mr Walker had to carry on running with the engagement ring tucked into a running pouch around his waist.

Karl Walker proposing to Tracy Orsanakos at the London Marathon.Karl Walker proposing to Tracy Orsanakos at the London Marathon.

But just when he thought he had missed the golden opportunity to put a ring on Miss Orfanakos’ finger, he spotted his family at the 21st mile –and ran over to ask a question that had long been on his mind.

“Tracy had been hinting about getting married for a long time,” said Mr Walker, who met Miss Orfanakos – also 42 – when they were working together at Acorn Park School in Banham.

“I was out on a training run when I thought that halfway through the marathon would be ideal and that Tower Bridge would be a good place to do it.”

He arranged for Tracy and their relatives to wait at the 13.5-mile mark, where the charity he was running for, Get Kids Going, would be based.

Karl Walker proposing to Tracy Orsanakos at the London Marathon.Karl Walker proposing to Tracy Orsanakos at the London Marathon.

“I got the ring out of my running pouch and put it on my finger so I was ready,” he explained.

“However, there were an awful lot of people and I didn’t see my family anywhere. I just had to put the ring away and carry on running as I was in the middle of a race.”

Unknown to him, his family had been behind the crowd and trying to get to the front to see him.

Thanks to a GPS tracking device in his shoe, they knew he was nearby –but not even technology could bring Mr Walker and Miss Orfanakos together for the planned romantic moment.

“All sorts of things were going through my mind,” Mr Walker said.

“I didn’t think I was going to see her during the race. I thought I was going to have to wait to the finish but I knew I wouldn’t enjoy it because I was exhausted.”

However, after being treated for cramp at the 21st mile, Mr Walker heard someone calling out his name.

He ran across a stream of runners to where Miss Orfanakos was waiting – but exhaustion meant he physically could not utter the all-important words.

Instead, he held up a card he had especially prepared beforehand which bore the words: “Will you marry me?”

Many couples would then want to share their romantic moment – but Miss Orfanakos said: “I knew he wanted to get in under four hours, so I just said, ‘Quick, run!’”

Mr Walker eventually hit his target with 56sec to spare – but was so tired he could not even remember whether his new fiancée had said yes.

After meeting him at Horse Guards Parade, she confirmed the answer he had been hoping to hear.

The couple celebrated with a glass of champagne at Liverpool Street railway station before returning home with their five-month-old daughter Kathryn.

Anyone wishing to sponsor Mr Walker for completing the marathon can still do so at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/karlwalker71

Are you planning on proposing to your partner in unusual circumstances? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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