When Izzy Gould decided to pop the question, he found himself asking if he should do something intimate or elaborate, while Brian Webb knew exactly how he wanted to propose. They both decided on the AJC Peachtree Road Race.
“It made perfect sense,” said Gould, who ran the Peachtree for the first time last year. “We met running and we love running. What better way than to propose to her at the Peachtree?”
Gould and Angie Frames met in 2015 at a morning run with the Birmingham Track Club in Alabama, after Gould – who usually ran alone – was persuaded by a friend to join in. There were two distance options that day, seven miles or 14. “I remember being toast after seven miles and seeing Angie keep going,” Gould said. “I thought, ‘Wow, what a badass.’”
Over the next several months, they became friends while running in another local group; once Gould figured out that Frames would show up early to get in extra miles, he began to join her. Each, it turned out, was having difficulties in their marriage at the time; eventually they would both divorce.
“Running has always just been the thing that has bonded us together,” Gould said.
“It was Izzy’s idea to enter [the lottery last year],” said Frames. “I remember he texted me one day, ‘What do you know about the Peachtree?’ and I said, ‘It’s iconic and it’s on the bucket list.’”
The two drove in from Birmingham the night before. They woke up, took MARTA and hopped in Wave B to run the race together. “Izzy is faster than I am, but he kept saying he wanted to run with me,” said Frames. “I kept saying he should run his own race, but he said I was hurting his feelings! We had to run together.”
Near the finish, the couple held hands as they smiled for a race photographer, but Frames was so hot that she was really thinking that she just wanted the race to be over.
Meanwhile, Gould was focusing on his proposal. He knew he wanted a photographer to capture the moment, but he didn’t have one planted. Anxiety took over and, with each photographer they passed, he hesitated. At one point, he thought he’d missed his opportunity.
Finally mustering up the courage when they saw the finish line, Gould turned to Frames and told her he had to stop.
At first, Frames feared there was something wrong. But then Gould dropped to one knee and said “Angie, this race is a lot like life. Life is a journey and I want to finish this race together like I want to finish our lives together.” He pulled out the ring he’d been carrying in a zippered pocket, and struggled to get it on her finger – which was swollen from the heat. But he was finally successful and the two laughed, kissed and embraced as Frames said “yes.”
Tearing up, Frames recalled: “It was just an incredible moment and one that we’ll both treasure forever.” Gould feels the same way. “It was an amazing experience and it really made us feel very connected to the race moving forward.”
Then there are the couples who have been running the Peachtree together for years, like Kyle and Jill Clay. The start director of the Peachtree, Kyle convinced Jill to volunteer for the first time in 2002, and today she’s the start tent coordinator. After their duties are fulfilled, the Clays have made it a tradition to jump into the race.
“If everything is going smoothly, we’ll hand in our radios, change shirts and along Wave S or T we’ll hop in and start running slowly,” Kyle said. The Clays meet up and run with another volunteering couple, Jennie and Holt Persinger, who are in charge of runner control on race day.
Another dynamic duo who both volunteer and run together – on a day that begins at 1:30 a.m. – are the long-time course director, Jack Abbott, and his wife, Sandra. Jack has run the race 45 years in a row and this will mark his 21st year as course director, while Sandra is his crew chief. They’ve run the Peachtree together for 15 years, jumping into the back of Wave B so that Jack can be in front of the masses to deal with any problems.
Diagnosed in 2013 with Stage 4 kidney disease, Jack credits Sandra for getting him through not only the race, but every day since the diagnosis.
As for Brian Webb, he started running – with Dishman’s support – as a way to cope with the death of his mother, who passed away in 2013 from congestive heart failure.
“God knew what he was doing when he put us together because we needed each other in our lives. I was depressed and overweight and something needed to change,” said Webb. “Crystal encouraged me over and over again and told me I could turn my life around.”
Webb was so motivated that he became a fitness instructor and founded Fitness Friends, a personal training company dedicated to inspiring others to get healthy and active, right before running his first Peachtree in 2015 to honor his mother.
Little did Webb know that the Peachtree would become a way to pay tribute the women in his life. “The first two years I ran it in honor of my mother,” he said, “and the third year was the year I decided to propose to Crystal.”
The two have known each other for 19 years, since meeting back at Clark Atlanta University. They dated for a while but then lost touch. It was social media that eventually brought them back together before his mother passed. “After I got through grieving from my mother, I knew Crystal had been my rock and foundation through it all. I wanted to lock her down!” said Webb.
On July 4, 2017, Crystal Dishman was, as usual, waiting for Webb at the finish line, and this time had coordinated family, friends and clients to be there, too, as part of a documentary being made about his transformational fitness journey.
“It’s so funny looking back now,” she said, because “Brian had already planned for them to be there for the proposal.”
That year, Webb ran his fastest time yet, 51:12. “I guess you could say I was eager to pop the question,” he laughed. He found his group post-race in The Meadow and thanked them for their support. Then he told them that the gathering was about more than Fitness Friends.
“I’ve gotten my life in shape and it’s all because of this woman right here,” he told them. “She’s always had my back I love her to the end of the earth.” He dropped to one knee and asked Dishman to marry him. “I really had no idea,” she said. They were married last September.
A friend of the Webb’s recorded the proposal on Facebook Live. “I watch the video once or twice a year at least,” said Dishman. “I love having the opportunity to relive it. We always bring it up on July 4th.”
Social media had a hand Gould’s proposal as well. Following the race, Gould and Frames headed down to Navarre Beach, Florida, to celebrate. While sitting by the pool the next day, they learned that the proposal had gone viral. A photographer from WSB TV had captured the moment and sent out a call for help in finding the couple.
“Someone recognized Angie wearing a Birmingham Track Club shirt, reached out to that Facebook page and they tracked us down,” said Gould. It was a shirt from the running group at which they met.
Gould and Frames are set to be married June 8 in Birmingham, but they won’t let their honeymoon interfere with running the Peachtree again this year, if they get in the lottery. (They have since joined Atlanta Track Club, but too late to get guaranteed entry.)
“We will absolutely run that race again,” said Frames. “It holds something very special in in our hearts.”
The Webbs also plan to run the Peachtree, together this year for the first time. “I got motivated to start running when I started to see Brian’s transformation,” said Crystal Webb. “I want us to do it together.”