Jesse Mendoza/No Sleep Media
At the end of a race, there’s nothing like kicking off your shoes, relaxing, and beginning the recovery process. But after Crystal West’s first 100K race at the in Huntsville, Texas, that all had to wait because her wedding was just hours away.
Luckily, she didn’t have to go far. Crystal and her ultrarunning, soon-to-be husband, Larry West, decided to get married at the finish line of the February 2, 2020 race.
“The finish was also the starting line of the race,” Larry, 41, told Runner’s World. “So to finish one race together and then start another, it just made sense.”
The Orange, Texas, couple have been running together since their second date in October 2014. They started communicating with a Facebook message; Larry saw a picture on Facebook of Crystal on a trail run with mutual friends of theirs, and he was struck by her beauty. Because she was running in the photo, he had to message her.
“I had run my first half marathon a week before, and my friends asked me to go out for 20 [miles] on the trails,” Crystal, 35, told Runner’s World. “It was farther than I’d ever run, but it ended up being fun and Larry’s name came up a couple times. Then, I got a message from him: ‘Hey, great run. What are you training for?’ and the rest is history.”
The two remained together on and off for five years, running together during that time. Both were divorced with kids, and running was a mutual therapy to help them heal in their personal lives.
As the years went by, an engagement seemed to be on the horizon. When Larry did pop the question on October 5, 2019, he picked a spot that was meaningful to him and he hoped would mean a lot to Crystal, too.
“I took her to the spot of the Rocky Raccoon 100-miler finish line with our kids,” Larry said. “The race wasn’t going on, but this was the site one of his favorite 100 milers. It reminded me of when life hurt the most and when my mind wanted to quit, you can find something deep inside yourself to help you. That was her.”
Immediately, they knew they should also get married there.
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Crystal was signed up for the Rocky Raccoon 100 miler at the time, but dropped down to the 100K distance. The training was going to be tough, given that she now only had three months to plan a wedding. With approval from the race director, they planned it out as best they could.
During the race, Larry handled the venue set-up so Crystal could just run. However, she was surprised when Larry called her during the race.
“Every time we had come to this park, we had seen a wedding happening at this lodge there,” Crystal said. “So I’m on my second loop, and [Larry] FaceTimes me to ask if I want to have the reception indoors or outside because the lodge was open. I had to coordinate a wedding while racing.”
Despite the last-minute changes, things mostly went to plan. Crystal finished alongside Larry in . After that, it was off to get ready. An hour nap, a shower, and getting ready were all time allowed before she was back at the finish line in her wedding dress and La Sportiva trail shoes, with her Rocky Raccoon belt buckle proudly around her waist. Larry wore his own Salomon shoes to match.
“There was no way I was putting my feet in anything else,” Crystal said.
The newlyweds skipped the honeymoon, opting to do a trip over spring break with their kids to Disney World. However, the kids were away the weekend after race, so the two made big plans.
“We did role reversal,” Larry said. “Rocky Raccoon has outgrown itself and does their 50K race the following weekend. So, I ran the 50K, and Crystal supported me.”
Larry finished with a time of .
Gear & News Editor Drew covers a variety of subjects for Runner’s World and Bicycling, and he specializes in writing and editing human interest pieces while also covering health, wellness, gear, and fitness for the brand.