Amy G. Baradell wasn’t a runaway bride, but running played a role in finding her husband.

Her longtime running partner and business partner, Amy Meinecke, kept bumping into Don Baradell at local races. After several chance meetings, Meinecke thought Amy and Don had a lot in common. She played matchmaker and arranged a meeting for them at a Saturday race in fall 2017.

At 6:30 a.m., sans makeup, Amy met Don. They ran for six miles and never stopped talking. The next day, they met for a group run and talked over dinner, but the official first date came two weeks later at Hops Burger Bar.

It was a slow process for the two who like speed. Don was still grieving his first wife, who had died of cancer. He was nervous, but Amy kept the moment light. She told him she thought they could handle getting a hamburger together.

“I had dated very little since my divorce,” says Amy. “But I knew I wanted a man who loved God first and foremost. We had a lot in common: running, past relationship pain, and faith in God.”

After their first date, the romance gained momentum. By Christmas, the two knew they loved each other and met each other’s friends and family. By February, they were talking about marriage.

While on the Lake Daniel Greenway in July 2018, they ran for cover from a sudden storm. As they sat on the stoop of Faithway Baptist Church, Don finally popped the question.

Nontraditional touches made their wedding day special at Heritage Hill on Nov. 24, 2018. Amy used lace from her mother’s 1956 wedding gown to make her wedding jacket. Her sons walked her down the aisle — son Ernie was her “man of honor” and held the bouquet — while her brother played “How Great is Our God” on guitar. Don’s daughter, Bronwyn, walked him down the aisle.

As the newly married couple danced to Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” which muses on lifelong love, Don whispered that he hoped Amy would still love him at 70.

The newlyweds honeymooned at a family member’s home in Mount Mitchell and returned to do one of their favorite things: run another race.

“People say our story is a fairy tale,” Amy says. “The real story is that God took care of us until we found each other.”

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