'It was the perfect opportunity': London Marathon runner tells ITV News the story behind the adorable proposal pictures

  • By Anna Pollitt

A London Marathon runner who was pictured proposing to his girlfriend as they crossed the finish line says he couldn't resist the "perfect opportunity" to pop the question.

Rachel Newell, 27, said "yes" to Adam Ruddick, 28, at the end of Sunday's run in a touching moment captured by spectator Ashley Fryer, who tracked down the couple after putting an appeal out on Twitter.

But Ruddick, from Twickenham, told ITV News that his plan for a finish line proposal almost unravelled with just two miles to go, when an injury he suffered in training suddenly flared up.

"We both felt fine on the day but I had a bit of trouble around mile 24," he said. "I knew if I got injured there's no way I'd have held her back.

"I just had to suck it up."

Rachel had no idea her boyfriend was going to pop the question after their 26-mile run Credit: @ashleyfryer

As well as pushing through the pain barrier to stage the unusual proposal, Ruddick said he didn't have an easy time concealing the ring.

"I'd stuffed sweets in my pocket to conceal the shape of the ring box," he explained. "But then Rachel asked for the sweets around mile 14.

"I gave her a few but didn't want to risk messing around with my pocket again if she wanted more, so I carried some in my hand for the last 12 miles."

There was also that niggling doubt that goes through the mind of most grooms.

"In the last mile, I did think if she says 'no,' I've made today very interesting for myself!"

She said 'yes'! Credit: @ashleyfryer

As they crossed the finish line, Ruddick gave his girlfriend a hug. It was a warm embrace to celebrate their success, and also a chance to prepare the ring behind her back, before he bent down to ask for her hand.

"I couldn't have asked for a better reaction" he said.

A shocked Newell was pictured covering her face, before tenderly kissing her husband-to-be while he was still down on one knee.

She told ITV News: "I was completely shocked, and unbelievably happy."

A proposal to remember at Sunday's London Maratahon Credit: @ashleyfryer

Despite the challenges he faced on the day, Ruddick says the most difficult part of his finish-line proposal plan was keeping it a secret from his wife-to-be.

"Ever since we'd been accepted for the marathon, I'd had the proposal on my mind," he said. "It seemed to be the perfect opportunity and it would've happened sooner if we didn't have to wait."

Ruddick said his decision to go down on one knee at the end of the run was "symbolic of their journey." The pair met as teenagers, but didn't start dating until three years ago.

They were running the marathon in memory of Newell's mum, Helen, who died from breast cancer in 2011.

"We'd brought out the best in each other in training and in everyday life," he said. "So why not end the long marathon journey together by starting another amazing one."

Engaged: Rachel Newell and Adam Ruddick Credit: Adam Ruddick

The pair said they had no idea that blogger Fryer was taking pictures of their special moment and described her images as "incredible."

Fryer tweeted: "If you got engaged on the finish line at the #LondonMarathon, I caught it on camera! Shout if you want the pics!"

She was retweeted more than 10,000 times.

"We were about to go to sleep when my phone wouldn't stop going off from friends and strangers telling us about Ashley's tweet," said Ruddick.

Ashley Fryer managed to capture the couple's romantic proposal on her smartphone Credit: @ashleyfryer

"They captured the reaction and happiness perfectly," added Newell. "Can't stop looking at them. We'll treasure them forever, and they'll always bring that moment back so vividly."

Fryer told ITV News that "the magic of Twitter" had helped her track down the couple within a few hours of the race.

Ruddick and Newell plan to set a date for the wedding after they have moved into their new home in Ashford, Middlesex, in a few weeks.