Though he didn't run the race, Robert Pavletich may have been the biggest winner in Saturday's "Run for the Hills" road race.
The romantic Yorktown police officer saw his girlfriend, Danielle Wegielski, running down Babbit Road toward the finish line, and popped out from the crowd with a bouquet of flowers.
Then he dropped to one knee.
"I saw him fidgeting with his pocket," said Wegielski, special education teacher and Carmel resident. "I was so surprised—I had absolutely no clue he was even going to be there."
Pavletich was supposed to be working but had instead arranged for the time off and organized—with some help—a celebration committee of friends and family at the finish line.
His girlfriend—now fianceé—said yes of course, thrilling her groom-to-be, bystanders and race organizers, who said they loved having a romantic story come out of their three-year-old event.
"We're thrilled he chose our race to propose," said Janet Jacobsen, an officer of the and race organizer. "Even though they weren't from our town, we felt like they were for today—it made the event even more special for us."
Jacobsen said she suspected something might be taking place at the race when on Friday, the day before the race, she received multiple calls confirming the exact location of the finish lines.
Jenna Wegielski, Danielle's identical twin sister, was one of those callers because she had a role in the surprise proposal. She was charged with signing her unsuspecting sibling up for the race—no easy feat because although the two had kept each other motivated in running for years, they hadn't planned on entering the event.
"Since she's going to be my maid of honor in five months, she said she'd run the race and stay at my pace—I didn't want her to get ahead and not be able to see the proposal," said Jenna Wegielski, a Peekskill resident.
The newly engaged couple hasn't set a date yet—Danielle Wegielski said she's content to help her sister get married and just enjoy being engaged—but they celebrated their four year anniversary on Sunday.
Though the couple may have taken the prize for most romantic moment, the top prizes in running went to Bedford resident Garrett Armbruster, 24, the first man to cross the finish line in 17:19, and Somers resident Pauline Dalceredo, 40, who finished first amongst the female field at 24:05.
Avery Skolnick, 9, of Bedford Hills was the first in the youth field to finish, at 22:42. Each participant in the children's division received a button that said "I Did It!" and a free race at .
Adding to the festivities were baked goods from MeMe's Treats, opening April 28 at 17 Adams Street, and a massage chair and therapist from Massage Envy, opening later this month in the Bedford Green shopping plaza.
Jacobsen said they had a handful more runners this year than last year, 265 as compared to 260. But overall she was pleased with the turnout, the community spirit, the weather—and of course, the romance.
"It was fitting to see a couple starting out as we—the women on the race committee—had all of our husbands up at 6 a.m. to help us this morning. So we'd like to thank them for their support, too."