Couple celebrates 40 years running marathonBy Jim Day
Clayton and Louise Coughlin are together for the long run.
The Fortune Cove couple started pounding the pavement together six years ago.
At that time, Clayton, 62, already had a handful of marathons under his belt while Louise's longest run was a half marathon with her sister-in-law.
As members of the P.E.I. RoadRunners Club, the pair would train together.
However, Clayton, the stronger runner of the two, would shoot ahead during the several club runs the Coughlins entered.
In their first marathon together, Clayton and Louise matched strides up to the halfway point of the run. Clayton pulled ahead for a good stretch only to have Louise catch him and help bring him home with a better pace than he would have managed on his own.
"After that,'' he said, "I felt there was no gain for me to run the marathon separately.''
Clayton says his wife is a calming influence on him while he is training. She helps him block out negative thoughts and focus on the task at hand.
"It has forced me to be present in the run,'' he said. "It brought my anxiety level down.''
Clayton adds the couple communicates better ever since they started running side-by-side (or sometimes one in front of the other to provide a draft).
Louise even likes a marathon to a marriage.
"You begin with the first step,'' she said. "You have your ups, you have your downs. You have your peaks, you have your valleys.''
The couple knows they can rely on each other for a helpful push when fatigue or doubt sets in.
Next week, the pair will mark their life together since tying the knot on Oct. 9, 1971 by tying up their running shoes for the eigth annual BMO Nesbitt Burns Prince Edward Island Marathon.
"Who ever thinks when they get married that they are going to have the fitness and the health to be able to run a marathon on their 40th wedding anniversary?'' said Louise.
"I'm very grateful that we have the fitness and the health to do it - and that we are still together.''