Swiftwick athlete proposes at Olympic Trials finish line

By February 25, 2016Run

Photo by Image of Sport  

A couple that Swiftwicks together stays together- for life! After completing last week’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, Swiftwick athletes Brandon Birdsong and Brittni Hutton had their lives changed forever. And it wasn’t because of finish times!

Birdsong went into the Olympic Trials with a lot going against him. He was prepared and fit going into the trials, but about six weeks out he started battling an injury. This injury led to a possible stress fracture in his foot, a deep bone bruise and some tendonitis in his knee. 

“I had more people than not telling me that I should not line up on the starting line that day,” Birdsong told Swiftwick. “Over 60 people stepped off the course that day and threw in the towel, but I was looking at the bigger picture.”

Photo: Facebook / U.S. National 24 Hour Running Team

Despite all the factors going against him, Birdsong made it to the finish line, where he made a beeline for Hutton. He dropped to one knee, presented the diamond ring he’d transferred to his pinky finger around mile 22, and asked her to marry him.

Hutton was momentarily confused—she thought he had collapsed—but when she realized what was going on, she, too, dropped down to her knees, overcome with emotion.

“I wasn’t expecting anything, and I was 110 percent surprised. I had no idea. No idea,” Hutton told Runner’s World.

Hutton enthusiastically accepted, as photographers there to cover the race captured the raw emotions of the moment.

“Brittni is a special person, and she deserved a very special proposal,” Birdsong said. “Sure she wouldn’t have cared if I stepped off, but it would have haunted me, and I wasn’t going to wait four more years to propose.”

“I may have lost the race, but I gained a life partner. I took home my gold medal that day.”

It wasn’t until Birdsong tried to get up off his knee that he realized just how bad he was feeling. He needed Hutton’s help to get back on his feet, and instead of celebrating, Birdsong headed to the medical tent, where he was given IV fluids. As he was getting ready to leave, his upper body essentially froze. His hands clenched, he couldn’t move, and he couldn’t talk.

A trip to the emergency room revealed that he was experiencing acidosis and that his electrolytes were severely depleted. After several hours in the ER, Birdsong was cleared to leave. Though parts of his day hadn’t gone according to script, the important thing was that Hutton had said yes.

Birdsong, 27, and Hutton, 26, initially met through the American Distance Project, a Colorado Springs, Colorado-based post-collegiate running group. Hutton went on a recruiting visit in July of 2013 and by November of that year, the pair began dating.

They now live together in Alamosa, Colorado, while Birdsong is enrolled in an MBA program at Adams State and both work in the school’s admissions department. They both race for Front Range Racers professional racing team, who just joined Swiftwick as a sponsored team this year.

Hutton, who won the citizen’s race at the Bolder Boulder 10K in 2015, is hoping to qualify for the 5,000 and 10,000 meters at this summer’s U.S. Olympic Track & Field Championships.

Birdsong began hatching his plan to propose to Hutton at the Olympic Trials almost a year ago. He qualified for the race by running a 1:04:21 at the 2014 Houston Half Marathon.

It was also during that time that the usually clean-shaven Birdsong started growing his distinctive beard. He decided that he wouldn’t shave it until he was able to run again. Once he did shave, his running stopped going as well, so he decided to grow it out again, until after the trials.

Birdsong and Hutton have not yet made any plans regarding when or where they will get married, or whether or not Birdsong will sport a beard at the wedding. For now, they’re just amused and honored that Birdsong’s proposal made news.

Hutton said that she would have said yes, no matter how he proposed.

“It could have been a paper ring, because at the end of the day, he chose me,” Hutton said.

“The thought of Brittni waiting at the finish line motivated me to take the next painful step…. and the next,” Birdsong said. “And yes, I would do it all over again to see her smiling face waiting for me at the finish line.”

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