About 6 months ago one night, my friend Clint Davis and I were chatting about a recent shoot I had done. In the middle of the conversation, he asked me if I was interested in playing a big role in his proposal to his girlfriend Sarah.
His idea was he wanted to propose to Sarah during the Cooper River Bridge Run 10k in Charleston, SC. He wanted to get a media pass so I would stand on the sideline and capture the moment while it happened on top of the bridge during the race. The only problem would be me spotting Clint, and Sarah of course, in the middle of the 30,000+ runners that would be participating during this race. Tough job? Absolutely! A few months went by and I heard nothing about the media pass. One night, I get a random message from Clint that said “How self-fulfilled and enlightened would you feel if you ran the Cooper River Bridge run?”. When I asked what he meant, he said “…the race organizers won’t give you a media pass…” which basically meant that I had to be *in* the 10k actually running this thing.
For those of you who know me know that I don’t run. At all. Matter of fact, (as a joke) I have a sticker on the back window of my truck that says “0.0 I don’t run” which is a joke on the “13.1” and “26.2” stickers you see for half marathon and full marathon runners. So needless to say, running a 10k for me isn’t exactly on the top of my priority list. But if it’s for a friend, if it’s this important, I’ll do it. So I registered for the race. Now came the issue of actually being in the midst of 30,000+ people during the race and finding Clint and Sarah during the race without any communication prior to the actual proposal. No pressure!!! We came up with a brilliant idea with a little help from our iPhones. Apple has an app called “Find My Friends”. This app allows you to connect with your friends and lets you know where they are at any given time via GPS. It would be perfect for us simply because I could
monitor stalk Clint during the race and as long as his little dot is behind me, I’m safe! So to make sure it worked, we tested it out the night before the run while we were in Charleston.
Meanwhile, to build up the curiosity of my Instagram followers and friends I started the hashtag of #BensTopSecretMission. It consisted of my random clues I was giving about this mission I was on which led to a lot of my friends texting and emailing me asking what the heck I was doing with a camera and some running shoes and also what in the world I was doing running a 10k. It was definitely amusing and if you have a few minutes, you should go search the hashtag on instagram and see for yourself.
So the night before the race, I was pretty nervous. What if I couldn’t keep up with the pack? What if I couldn’t find Clint? What if I missed the shot? What if I didn’t even get the shot? What if… what if… what if? (fill in the blank with doubtful questions about the race and the biggest moment in my friends life). I got 4 hours of sleep!
The next morning at 4Am on race day, my alarm goes off. I had to be ready and at the race before Clint, so regardless of how tired and exhausted I was, it had to be done. I was on the bus at 5AM and to the race at 5:30Am. The temperature was a crisp 45 degrees and the race didn’t start until 8AM, so I stood around waiting. Once the race actually began, the butterflies in my stomach were nonstop. I was mid pack in the race with Clint and Sarah about 2 groups and 6-7 minutes behind me… so unless they ran a mean 6 minute mile, there was no catching up until we got to the actual bridge itself (perfect!). Turns out, they walked the whole time because Sarah’s parents were with them and totally in on our plan. After a few picture exchanges of our outfits, I knew where Clint was, what he was wearing, and also what Sarah’s dad was wearing.
Once on top of the bridge, I get a text from Clint about the group (Clint, Sarah, Sarah’s parents, and a good friend of the family) being about 5 minutes behind me. So I stopped and waited and just as I expected I was only spotted by Clint while the group approached. They passed me by as I stood on the sidelines only to jump behind them and start following them.
My signal from Clint was a pretty simple one. Once we were on the top apex of the bridge, he would start jumping up and down screaming “TOP OF THE BRIDGE!!!”. After a few times of this, he knew he’d look like a total fool to Sarah and the others around him, so he would fall and pretend he hurt himself in the midst of his childishness. Then he would bring up the ring and give it to Sarah and pop the question. And that’s exactly what he did and the plan worked like a charm. The pictures below are of the race and the proposal…
A massive crowd gathered around us, lots of pictures were taken, and a ton of cheers were heard. The rest of the race, we had random strangers come up and congratulate Clint and Sarah and tell them how they witnessed the whole thing go down. It was truly awesome! For me, being a huge part of it was even a bigger deal. This means the world to me that Clint would put his trust in me to capture such a moment in the midst of a massive 10k run.
The rest of the day was spent eating, drinking, relaxing, and ultimately celebrating with friends and family enjoying this wonderful event. Clint’s planning for this was perfect and went off without a hitch. It was and will be one of the most memorable moments I’ve had during my short time of taking pictures and no doubt Sarah and I will tell the story of Clint acting a fool and screaming “TOP OF THE BRIDGE!!!” for many years to come.
So Clint and Sarah… Congratulations. Thank you for letting me such a big part of this amazingly thought out plan and I’m looking forward to partying with you guys at your wedding next year!