Her ‘one and only marathon’ ends with a proposal at the finish line
Stephanie Solt wasn’t sure she would be able to complete the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon on Sunday.
At mile 20, her right knee started to throb with pain.
At a point in the 26.2 mile race, doubt often finds a way to creep into a runner’s mind. Solt, 25, of Bridgeville, didn’t know if she could continue.
Had she not been able to finish, it would have been a shame in more ways than one. Unbeknownst to Solt, her boyfriend, JT Mylan, was waiting for her at the finish line with an engagement ring.
“The people on the sideline kept cheering me on and calling me by the name I had on my bib and coming out there and giving me a high five and just pushing me along,” said Solt. “It was just amazing. And I said ‘God, just get me through this.’”
As she rounded the bend to go onto the Boulevard of the Allies, the home stretch to the finish line, Solt realized she was going to make it.
“My head was down and I was like ‘OK, there’s the finish, I can do it.’ I am almost in tears because of how much everyone is cheering me on,” said Solt.
Solt completed the race in 4 hours, 55 minutes. At the finish line, the security guards directed her away from the other runners. Solt was confused. She wanted to just go with them. She wanted to sit down and relax.
“And here’s JT at the finish line and I’m like ‘What are you doing here?’ He puts the medal on me and pulls out the ring and goes down on one knee, and I said “Oh my goodness!’ I was speechless,” Solt said Monday.
She was speechless until she said yes.
It turns out that Mylan, a 32-year-old North Side resident and health and physical education teacher in the Avella Area School District, had been planning this for close to a month. He said it was very hard to keep his proposal plan a secret because everyone at the gym where they workout knew about it. They all helped pull the proposal together.
A mutual friend came up with the idea, asking Mylan when he was going to “pop the question” and then suggesting he do it at the marathon. Another guy told Mylan he was working the security detail at the race and could get him to the finish line. Another friend at the gym overheard the conversation and said he knew a photographer who was going to be there and could take pictures.
“When the universe lobs you an easy one, you might as well take it,” Mylan said.
Mylan said he became extremely nervous around mile 25 because he knew Solt was slowing down.
“I’m like ‘She has to make it,’” said Mylan. “I told her she had to finish.”
“I was just so ecstatic that I get to marry my best friend,” said Solt. “It didn’t take away from the moment. It just added to the joy of finishing my first marathon.”
The couple are aiming for a wedding date in the Spring of 2022 when Solt hopes to have graduated from physical therapy school at Chatham University.
As for running marathons, she says she has no plans to do another one.
“That was my one and only marathon,” said Solt. “From now on I’ll stick to half-marathons.”
Paul Guggenheimer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-226-7706 or [email protected].