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George Bandy ran 13.1 miles in Saturday's St. Jude Country Music Marathon with a family heirloom diamond ring safety-pinned inside his shorts.

He wasn't worried about his run time. In fact, he was trying to slow down to ensure he came across the finish line at the same time as his special lady, Englysh Elwell, so he could pop the big question.

"You always envision it being pretty and happening when you're dressed up, not hot and sweaty after running 13 miles," Elwell said with a glow after accepting his marriage proposal. "I knew it was coming but I had no idea it would be here."

Her dad, Eric Elwell, wasn't thrilled about his family ring being carted all over downtown Nashville inside a pair of running shorts, but he was ecstatic to help arrange the finish line proposal for his son-in-law to be.

Clasping her hands and kneeling down, Bandy asked her to spend the rest of her life with him in front of the chain link barrier fence where her parents, Eric and Marlla, and her daughter, Lola, were standing on the other side with enormous grins.

"It's very much them; it's unique," Marlla said of the marathon proposal after taking a video with her phone of Englysh's reaction.

Then the two 31-year-old Nashvillians walked away smiling, hand-in-hand, into a sea of runners who were still flowing over the finish line to claim their medals at 1st Avenue and Russell.

Runners came from all over the world to participate in the country's most music-oriented marathon.

Jan Rheinholdtz flew in from Germany as a good excuse to visit Music City and see his first major marathon.

As a faithful country music fan, Rheinholdtz has long dreamed of visiting the Lower Broadway honky-tonks and maybe being lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a star.

"So far, Nashville is even better than I had hoped," he said. "And this marathon is incredible. But where's all the country music?"

The honky-tonks were closed, of course, when the marathon began at 7 a.m., so he headed to another section of the race to catch some country bands along the route.

Tatiana Fernendez, of Atlanta, has ran a lot of marathons and half-marathons, but today's Country Music Marathon was the hilliest she has experienced. She texted her friends to tell them "I conquered the Nash-hills!"

"I really liked the bands playing while I'm running," she said. "I normally listen to my own music in my earphones but I turned it off after the first minute into the race so I could hear the music. It was great."

She recently ran a race in Atlanta that was "lonely," having few spectators.

"I was really surprised to see so many spectators along the way at this run. Of all the half-marathons I have ran, this one was the most fun."

There were a few faintings, a broken foot, some bloody noses and a lot of cramps, but overall this year's race was a hit with runners as the mild spring weather was ideal.

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