A surefire way to connect as a couple is to find a hobby or two you both enjoy. One married duo took this idea to the next level though, finishing their 100th marathon together this month and kissing as they crossed that finish line.
Linda and Jim Ballard, ages 61 and 70 respectively, first met almost 40 years ago running around McKinley Park in Chicago, Illinois every day. After Jim noticed Linda training in the opposite direction, he began running more to catch her. “She’d go one way, I’d go the other way,” he told the Chicago Tribune. “That’s how I got to do the long distance. I just wanted to be with her.” Finally, the two realized they were timing their runs just to see one another. They struck up a conversation, hit it off, and began dating — and they’ve been together ever since.
Eventually, the two worked their way up to running the marathon distance, taking on the Chicago Marathon for the first time in 1981. Four decades, a marriage, and more than a few races later (including an accidental ultramarathon!), they wanted to come back to the iconic Chicago race for their 100th run at the distance. “We’re about the experiencing and enjoying ourselves for everything that we do. We don’t want to just get in and out of some place to just go get it done — unless there’s no reason to be there, and we haven’t found a city like that yet,” Linda told TODAY.
All these years later, the duo has found that the sports keeps them grounded and connected no matter what life throws their way. “You learn that you can get through anything,” Linda explained to TODAY. “It’s just spending the time talking after a busy day then laughing about things together when you’re running.”
And even though reaching 100 marathons seems like it could be a natural stopping place, the pair show no signs of slowing down. “I wanted to run with her just to be with her,” Jim said to the Chicago Tribune. “We always ran together, no matter where we went.”
Awwww, don’t these two just melt your heart?