When Nicole Lamparello decided to run the 2013 ING New York City Marathon, Cory Terzis immediately saw his chance.
“I figured it would be a perfect opportunity to propose,” he wrote in an e-mail from Italy, where the couple is enjoying a long-planned, post-marathon vacation.
They would run the race together. Both sets of parents, plus siblings and friends, would be there to watch. Nicole’s brother, Phil, was running. The scene was set.
And then there was the cheer squad.
“I knew that when I proposed I wanted to make it a big deal, where people turn their heads to watch, and there’s no better way than hiring 25 people in matching outfits to perform a cheer routine,” said the 29-year old Terzis, an equities derivatives analyst at Barclays Bank in midtown Manhattan from Chatham, NJ.
So Terzis enlisted the help of Cheer New York, an all-volunteer nonprofit adult cheerleading group, organized by and for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and straight communities, which is often involved in New York Road Runners events.
For about four hours, Terzis ran with the engagement ring in a pouch zippered into his back pocket, slapping his butt every quarter-mile to make sure the ring was still there and occasionally drifting back behind Lamparello so that he could secretly call and text their friends and family. Get to the cheerleaders, he would tell them. We’ll be there soon.
At 21 miles, Lamparello’s brother Phil, who was also running the marathon, caught up to them so that he wouldn’t miss out on what he knew was coming.
Lamparello still had no clue.
As the couple approached mile 24.5, the cheer squad came into view. So did their families, and that’s where Lamparello at first focused her attention.
“Nicole, say ‘Yes’! Y-E-S!’”
“I didn’t even realize the words they were cheering until Cory got down on one knee,” said Lamparello, 26, a doctor who is completing her radiology residency at Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan from Summit, NJ. “I was totally surprised.”
She said “Yes” before Terzis was even finished with the proposal. After hugs and congratulations from the two dozen or so friends and family who gathered for the occasion, they carried on running and crossed the finish line together in 4:25:10.
The pair, who began dating in high school, often do their long runs together on the weekends, along Manhattan’s East River pedestrian path and over the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. But Cory is the more-frequent and faster racer, having posted a time of 3:30:17 at the 2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon and a 4:21:41 marathon on the final leg of Ironman New York in 2012, which he completed in 12:08:03.
Nonetheless, Lamparello said, Terzis promised to train for the 2013 ING New York City Marathon with her and run the race with her every step of the way. Now she knows why.
And among all the things she’s grateful for, said Lamparello, is this: “After 24 miles, I was happy he was able to get back up and finish the race with me.”