As Valentine’s Day is approaching, we’d like to share a love story that many people don’t know began at the Cascade Lakes Relay.

In 2010, CLR team Running on Empty was about to spark a love connection. Two teammates, Gretchen and Matt, would meet each other for the first time at exchange point 6 when Van 1 (Gretchen) handed off to Van 2 (Matt).

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Gretchen explains how both her and Matt almost didn’t join the team. “I did try to get out of the race last minute because of a nagging injury, and Matt got talked back onto the team at the last minute because of a late dropout. What convinced him to rejoin with only a week to train was that he asked our team captain if there were single girls on the team and she said yes, not knowing if that was true or not.”

Van 1 camped at Diamond Lake the Thursday night before the race. Gretchen’s teammate Sandy told her “Oh, I’ve got a man for you – Matt. He’s in the other van, you’ll meet him at the handoff tomorrow. He’s great.” She was intrigued.

Once the race began, Gretchen made a point to meet this elusive man who her friend thought would be a good match. She says, “we tried to talk at every van handoff but that’s the only time we saw each other. He texted me at one point, getting my phone number off the team roster, but only said “Good luck on the relay” and I had no idea who it was from, plus I had really spotty reception so I couldn’t text back; he thought it meant I wasn’t interested. We were both trying not to seem too interested and thinking of asking our team captain about the other but neither of us really did.”

After a few quick encounters during the race, they finally had a chance to get to know each other at the finish line.

She says, “Matt teases me because when we eventually walked to his car after the race and he asked if he could call me sometime and come back to Bend to take me out, I said ‘I’d like that’ instead of just ‘yes’. I thought it was a cute answer.

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We ended up sitting in Matt’s car talking for hours then had dinner at Longboard Louie’s, went back to the HS to get my car and had our first kiss in the Summit HS parking lot (romantic huh?!).”

The rest is history. They were engaged on December 24, 2010. Married on June 4, 2011. They had their first born son on February 25, 2013 named Carson. Then Cooper was born on December 5, 2014. This family of four is beginning to feel complete.

Gretchen says, “I’d say the CLR made Matt a runner, and a husband and dad.” Both Gretchen and Matt plan on running CLR this year.

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We say that CLR made a love connection, two beautiful baby boys and a family. Here’s to many more love stories that begin at a Cascade Relay.

Read more about their story on Gretchen’s blog.