Sullivan 5K runner races to finish line marriage proposal

Past the finish line, Shawn Ballou of Merrimack, New Hampshire places an engagement ring on the finger of runner Noelle McKeon, also of Merrimack. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

Runners from New York finished on top Saturday morning in Oak Bluffs in the 25th annual Sullivan 5K run and walk, but the highlight of the race was a competitor who ran right into a marriage proposal at the finish line.

Shawn Ballou, of Merrimack, New Hampshire, waited at the finish line for his sweetheart to complete the run. He held a large sign above his head that read “Noelle will you marry me” followed by a big question mark.

But there was no question about it. On bended knee, Mr. Ballou offered Noelle McKeon, also of Merrimack, an engagement ring moments after she crossed the line. She accepted the proposal on the spot, much to the delight of the crowd.

Dan Hillman of Westmoreland, New York, was the race winner, running the East Chop course in 17:53. Rene DaSilva of Vineyard Haven was next among the 175 runners, clocking in at 18:10.

Molly Battles of Brooklyn was the women’s winner, placing ninth overall in 21:25. Fellow Brooklyn runner Rebecca Cohen was the women’s runner-up, finishing 14th in 22:18. Erin Tiernan of Oak Bluffs had the best time for a Vineyard woman; she crossed the line in 23:27, 28th overall.

Jose Alves of Oak Bluffs was third overall (18:19), followed by 4. Larry Czaplewski, West Caldwell, N.J. 19:04; 5. Tracy Reade, Sierra Vista, Ariz., 19:24; 6. Reaan Steenkamp, Vineyard Haven, 20:13; 7. Seth Harlow, O.B., 20:25; 8. Jason Kish, Guilford, Conn.,, 21:08; 10. Alec MacMaster, Marblehead, 21:52.

In addition to those previously noted, a host of other Island runners made the top 50: 12. Jamie Leon, O.B., 22:11; 16. Stephen Katz, W.T., 22:21; 20. Gregg Rubin, V.H., 22:28; 27. Peter Burke, V.H., 23:13; 32. Katie Brown, V.H., 24:09; 35. Joellen BenDavid, O.B., 24:39; 36. Chris Decker, V.H., 24:58; 37. Deborah Hammett, O.B., 24:58; 39. Jim Austin, V.H., 25:14; 40. Karen Burke, V.H., 25:14; 44. Charlie Porterfield, V.H., 25:23; 45. LaTeefah Pree, O.B., 25:24; 46. Emily Cooney, V.H., 25:26; Jonathon Hunt, O.B., 25:29.

The top two of 152 walkers were both local. Marston Clough, 70, of Vineyard Haven was first overall in 34:17. Jill Zamarro of Oak Bluffs was right on his heels at 34:18 and placed second.

The next Vineyard walker in the top 30 was Sharon Thompson, Edgartown, (12th, 41:41), followed by 15. Joseph Carter, O.B., 43:01; 16. Rae Carter, O.B., 43:01; 17. Donna Leon, V.H., 43:31; 22. Susan Crampton, V.H., 45:17; 26. Edward Miller, Chilmark, 46:38; 27. Sam Feldman, Chil., 46:38, and 28. Walter Teller, Chil., 46:39.

The event benefits Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.

[Complete results]