TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — For many people running a race, they are concentrated on their finishing time. For Laura Raposa in 2011, she ended up concentrating on the shiny new ring on her finger.
She and her now-husband Ben met at the Gasparilla Parade of Pirates in 2009.
“Ben was wearing a Draft Day Race shirt. He is tall, so he stood out in a crowd, and I was like, oh, hey, I ran that race,” she recalled.
Ben Raposa had only run two 5Ks in his life at that point, but he was excited the shirt made a cute lady talk to him. They started dating, and eventually Ben and Laura started running regularly together and running races together.
Two years later, 2011, Laura signed up for the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K. Ben did not. He was planning a different course that would start the rest of their lives.
“I had been shopping around for rings. I had signs made up, recruited friends to help out. The whole idea was to keep it a big secret. Once she started running, I called her dad, and asked his permission,” said Ben.
As Laura started to run north on Bayshore Boulevard for last three miles of the race, she saw Ben and their friends and headed over to them. Totally missing the large sign telling her to stop.
“It was so hot that day. I didn’t even notice the signs. To be honest, I was hoping they had some water because I was looking for any excuse to stop,” Laura said.
After she asked for water, Ben got down and opened the ring box saying, “I don’t have water, but I do have this,” He popped the question at the exact spot they had met. Laura slowly backed into the street before totally grasping what was happening. Eventually she said yes, and they finished those last few miles together.
That was just one of many finish lines this couple has crossed. They’ve run races in Rome, Chicago, New York and many others. She’s run 11 marathons, and he’s run 8 along with a few ultra marathons. That’s any race longer than 26.2 miles.
The only year she did not run the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic races was in 2015 because their son, Grayson, was born three weeks before. Now Grayson is following in his parents’ footsteps and just recently won a one-mile race.
“There were a couple of big kids, and I thought they were going to pass me and finish before,” Grayson recalled.
This family of runners all started with a race, a sign, and question.