NERVES were jangling for thousands of people preparing for the Great North Run yesterday – but Mark O’Sullivan faced an altogether more daunting task.
Upon finishing the half marathon he planned to pop the question to his girlfriend of eight months Kim Pascoe and the couple took their "whirlwind romance" to the next level after Kim accepted the 27-year-old’s proposal.
The weather might have been miserable but it could not put a dampener on Mark and Kim’s "unforgettable" day.
The couple, of Marigold Avenue, Gateshead, met at Christmas last year and after less than a year together Mark decided he was going to propose. Surrounded by thrilled friends and family, a relieved but ecstatic Mark, a development control officer for Durham County Council, revealed that he had been planning the proposal for two months.
He said: "I was so nervous. While I was running I just tried to forget that I was going to ask Kim to marry me afterwards. I put some music on and focused on getting across the finish line."
Mark completed the run dressed as a schoolgirl and said he wanted to the proposal to be unique.
He said: "In the past I’ve completed the run dressed as a fairy. I’ll use any excuse to wear a skirt.
"I wanted to do something different and embarrass Kim.
"I think it’s fair to say I managed to do that."
Mark said his family and friends had known about the plans for a while but that 18-year-old Kim, who is planning to study drama at Northumbria University, had no idea.
She beamed afterwards that she had not seen it coming.
She said: "It’s amazing. I didn’t have a clue. I only came along to support him so I was completely shocked when he proposed."
The couple have not yet set a date for the wedding but Mark hopes they will tie the knot in the next year or so.
Mark raised more than £80 for Macmillan Cancer Support, a cause he said was close to him and his family.
His grandfather, John Cook, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer five years ago and a family friend had also recently suffered with cancer.
Speaking for Macmillan, Hailey Short said: "The support for our cause has been absolutely fantastic today.
"More than 1,000 runners have helped raise around half a million pounds for us today.
"It’s the most support we’ve ever had.
"So for Mark and Kim to have shared such a happy moment with us on such a wonderful day is something quite special."