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New Feature: Love on the Run

For most women, the perfect engagement involves champagne and a ring; the honeymoon, a tropical beach and cocktails. But for RacingThePlanet women, romance can be a little different: grueling runs across the desert by day, freeze-dried meals and an eight-person tent by night.

Kyle Pennell married one such woman. “You’re either ready for adventure or you’re not,” he says. “Different people have different ideas of what an adventure is.”

Kyle married Sarah Diaz just three weeks before Iceland 2013.  The Californian couple registered not for plates, mixers and utensils, but instead for headlamps, socks and sleeping pads.  “A lot of people still think we’re crazy,” says Kyle.

For the active couple, a stage race wasn’t so crazy.  They hike and do yoga together, and Sarah challenged Kyle to reach for more in his running. Kyle had run in high school, but didn’t get back into it until meeting Sarah. He worked up to an ultra-marathon, and then Sarah pushed him even further after she returned from RacingThePlanet: Nepal 2011 and convinced Kyle to race Iceland 2013 with her. 

Most couples finding wedding planning daunting, but Sarah and Kyle did it alongside training. “On the whole, it was horrendous!” Kyle said. But they pulled off a destination wedding, bringing Sarah’s Cuban family and Kyle’s family from Michigan to Southern California. Shortly after, the pair hopped a plane to Reykjavík.

Dogged by an injury, Sarah withdrew from the race after Stage 1, Between Two Glaciers.  She appreciated the experience nonetheless. “It’s a life-changing experience that you get to do with your best friend.”  Both Kyle and Sarah say they helped each other along the course that first day, shifting the burden back and forth, and knowing intuitively when the other needed a boost. “He makes me laugh at rock bottom. He can bring me up,” says Sarah.  Kyle went on to place 81st, finishing his first RacingThePlanet event in 40 hours and 24 minutes.

With this long adventure behind them, Sarah and Kyle are ready for the much longer adventure of marriage, as well as a much more second honeymoon. “We love being active,” says Sarah. “We are going to have a relaxing honeymoon, though!”

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