Forget a traditional wedding. Phoenix marathoner Cicely Sapp wasn’t sure she wanted to get married. Period. That is, until she started dating David Sapp in 2012.
“When we met, I was the runner … I was hardcore into training,” said Cicely, who works as a client care lead for an individual retirement account administrator. “He was not an athlete, but he expressed interest in running as a way to connect with me and a way to hang out with me more. He suffered for a lot of those runs. Through that, he kind of discovered a love for it as well.”
While also deepening his love for the woman he married during the Las Vegas Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon.
The two were married in 2016 between the third and fourth miles of the marathon and return to Las Vegas every year to celebrate their anniversary by running in the half marathon. A passion for distance running has fortified their relationship and continues to bond the two at races across the country.
The 34-year-olds have run races this year in San Diego, Seattle and New Orleans and are registered for runs next year in Washington and New York. But the Las Vegas Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon is so sentimental, so personal, that they insist they won’t ever miss it.
“When we got married, we made a commitment that as long as we’re able bodied, we’ll come back each year and run it,” Cicely said. “It’s meant a lot to us individually and as a couple.”
David says he wasn’t much of an athlete before dating Cicely. He smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, didn’t eat particularly well and “wasn’t really taking much care of myself.”
Cicely was an experienced athlete who began running in 2009 as a way to challenge her will. She completed a triathlon in Arizona in 2012 and sought to run marathons as a way to push herself even further.
“At first, I was incredibly intimidated by it, because the idea of even running a mile at that time was terrifying,” said David, who works for a skin cancer research laboratory. “But we were also starting to build a relationship, and I wanted to spend more time with her so I started running.”
David struggled at first, but saw running as a way to become closer to Cicely. He eventually started covering longer distances in faster times. His relationship improved. His breathing improved. His quality of life improved.
So much so that he sought to run in a race alongside Cicely — and get married.
At the same time.
“We didn’t want to do anything large scale. That wasn’t important to us as far as a wedding goes,” David said. “We also wanted it to be something that was unique to us and worked for us.”
The Las Vegas Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon offers what the Sapps call a “run-thru wedding” during which couples get married midway through the race. The two conceived the idea while walking on a beach in Mexico about six months before the 2016 marathon.
Friends and family attended the 10-minute ceremony at the race.
“Selfishly, I was a little disappointed, because I wanted to do the traditional bridesmaid, maid of honor, walk down the aisle thing,” said Barbara Gallagher, Cicely’s friend of 20 years. “But I thought it was absolutely perfect for them … They don’t do anything traditionally.”
Cicely and David train regularly, whether they’re preparing for a race or not. They rarely train at the same time and don’t necessarily run races side by side, either.
“It’s nice for them to have a common goal,” Gallagher said. “They’re both independent people and have their own goals they work on independently. Their own kind of dreams and ambitions. But this is the one thing they really share together … that one thing they really bond over.”
What: Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon
When: 4:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Race starts in parking lot behind Planet Hollywood and ends at The Mirage on Las Vegas Boulevard