David and Kristy Bluestein crossing the finish line in 2013. 

On Saturday, Aug. 10, 500 runners will take a leap of faith at the 42nd annual Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff Dave McKay Memorial Half Marathon and 5K. While hundreds of runners have fallen in love with the race, none have fallen harder than David and Kristy Bluestein. This year, we celebrate the 10th anniversary of starting the 2009 race with their wedding ceremony.

David and Kristy met at the June 2008 Rock 'n' Roll San Diego Marathon, when she caught his eye with a shirt that read “Drinkers with a Running Problem.” As they flirted and ran together for 7 miles, love was clearly in the air. Kristy, however, lived in China. So they dated via emails and Skype and racked up frequent flier miles.

In late July the following year, Kristy arrived at Phoenix Sky Harbor to visit David on his home turf. As she exited security, she saw David surrounded by his closest friends and holding a wedding ring. A few days later, they asked me if they could be married at the start of our race.

On Aug. 8, 2009 -- wearing the same running outfits they’d worn in San Diego -- they exchanged vows at the start of our half marathon.

Since then, Kristy and David have completed every BBBSF half marathon. They’re two of our most recognizable runners. David dons his signature red metallic wig and patriotically carries the American flag the entire race. He’s also been known to carry Kristy across the multitude of monsoon mud puddle obstacles that frequently inhabit the course and across the finish line.

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They take their time, not only because they savor the course but because aid station volunteers stop them to take selfies. My favorite tradition is that upon their successful completion of the race, this race director is invited to a secret finish line toast with the smiling, sweaty couple.

This year’s half marathon, presented by Capstone Homes, starts at 7:30 a.m., with the 5K at 7:45, and the kids’ dash immediately following the 5K. If you’re a noncompetitive runner or just want to walk, you can head out at 6 a.m. Last year, a record 60 walk/runners took the early start.

The race is the second-oldest half marathon in Arizona. It’s always an adventure, with monsoon madness and spectacular views atop Observatory Mesa that make it one of the most scenic and challenging half marathons in the Southwest. All proceeds help Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flagstaff match children with appropriate adult mentors.

To register, visit register.chronotrack.com/r/46763. Entrants get a free prerace Fratelli’s Pizza picnic, a colorful long-sleeved Sweatvac race shirt and drink specials at the Pay-N-Take. And at the half-marathon awards ceremony at the Weatherford Hotel (beginning at noon), you can find David and Kristy yourself, and toast them on their 10th.

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This is Neil Weintraub’s 18th year as voluntary director of the BBBSF Half Marathon and 5K. He thanks his co-chair, Sheriff Jim Driscoll; committee members and course crew Dr. Rich Haag, Dave Klensin, Dr. Bill Gaylord, Andy Prosper, retired Flagstaff police chief Pat Madden, Chef Bill Shaler, Chip Ogden, Brian Beamer and Holly Gillette; and BBBSF Executive Director Kelly Elliot, who keep the event lively, fun, safe and memorable.

Send column ideas to coordinating editor Julie Hammonds at runner@juliehammonds.com.


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