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A Gate River Run marriage

Ben Berling and Joana Thurston are preparing to get married at the place they met: The Gate River Run.
Ben Berling and Joana Thurston are preparing to get married at the place they met: The Gate River Run.

JACKSONVILLE – They say the couple that sweats together stays together.

"We like to just, hey it's Saturday morning, let's go out for a bike ride or let's run," said Ben Berling.

"If we didn't have that in common, we'd never spend any time together," said Joana Thurston. "It's the focal point of everything we do. If we didn't have that gels us together, I don't think we would have made it."

For Berling and Thurston, their road to dating began two years ago at the 2013 Gate River Run.

"I'm coming down on the bridge," said Berling. "I'm on a runner's high. I'm looking for my buddy who I trained with and then this girl comes up to me."

"I had never seen him before but I was so excited," said Thurston. "And I was even more excited because if he didn't finish before me, I probably never would have hugged him or dated him."

"I always had her in the back of my mind but I was like, well that was interesting," said Berling. "That was great. Let's see what happens but there's no way I'm going to end up finding her because how can you in a city this big and it's a big race."

A few weeks later, Berling and Thurston would meet again. It turned out they worked for the same company. The two began dating and the rest, as they say, is history.

Both Berling and Thurston are avid runners, so they decided to get married at the place they met: The Gate River Run.

"This is the race that started it all for us," said Thurston." It was that random drive by hugging. It's a great story. It's the biggest 15k in the country. People come from all over the country to do this race. It's a great celebration of this great city we live in. Plus it's the anniversary of that great day."