Bruce Bumgarner had to run more than 3 miles, scale several inflatable climbing walls and crawl through an obstacle nicknamed the “Tangled Up” before he could get down on one knee.
The 35-year-old Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer popped the question Saturday in Rock Hill after he and his girlfriend Kayla Hefner, 28, completed an “Insane Inflatable 5K” run. She said yes.
His 5-year-old son Hunter was waiting at the finish line Saturday, holding a poster where he’d scrawled, “Kayla, will you marry my daddy?”
The Denver, N.C. couple says they’ll start planning their wedding right away for a ceremony with family and friends next year. They’ve been dating for more than one year.
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Hefner says she was shocked but happy when she realized Bumgarner was proposing Saturday morning. The couple had just crossed the finish line, sliding down the final obstacle hand-in-hand when Hunter sneaked up behind them, holding his sign.
Worried Hunter wouldn’t get to the finish line in time, Bumgarner had cunningly asked Hefner if they could walk during part of the last leg of the 5K course.
“Coordinating them being here at the right time, yeah, it took a little bit of effort,” Bumgarner said, sweaty and tired but all smiles after the run around Winthrop Lake.
The couple had signed up for the 10:30 a.m. wave of the 5K. The event drew hundreds of people on Saturday. The large turnout caused organizers to break up the waves of runners even more, delaying Bumgarner and Hefner’s start by about 10 minutes.
Along the way, they jogged and ran, making their way through 10 giant obstacle courses set up around the lake area.
The timing ended up being just right for Hunter as he made his way through the crowd of runners, toward a table where Hefner had her back turned to pick up a souvenir t-shirt.
When she turned around, Bumgarner dropped to a knee.
The couple says Saturday’s event was the first inflatable obstacle course run they’ve done. They enjoy exercising and running together.
Bumgarner and Hefner met in Charlotte through a coalition they both work with called “Safe Kids,” a partnership of law enforcement, educators, government officials and health workers who aim to prevent child injuries and deaths.
Saturday’s “insane” 5K saw participants from across North and South Carolina. The course presents obstacle challenges for teams and individuals racing to the finish. The next closest location for the event is Greensboro, scheduled for Nov. 14.