Marriage is a marathon not a sprint and Vashish Maharaj is halfway to reaching the starting line.
Maharaj proposed to his longtime girlfriend Nandani Dookhoo as he crossed the finish line at the University of the West Indies’ half-marathon on Sunday. He ran with the ring in his pocket for the entire 13.1 miles of the race.
When Maharaj crossed the finish line after three hours and 22 minutes he was greeted by Dookhoo. He then got on one knee and asked Dookhoo for her hand in marriage.
Caught by surprise, overcome with emotion and unable to speak, Dookhoo nodded yes.
Maharaj and Dookhoo met at an archery club in Tunapuna more than seven years ago.
“Four years ago we decided to try our expertise in running the UWI half marathon. I found out that I wasn’t very good at it, but Nandani was,” Maharaj said.
“We informally decided that I would follow her pace as we ran every marathon together, which included the Tobago Sea to Sea Marathon in May this year.”
But in June, Dookhoo had a surgical procedure “which left her unable to do many things,” including what would have been their fourth consecutive UWI marathon, Maharaj said.
Maharaj said at first he was not planning to run the race but Dookhoo encouraged him to do it for them and their friend Daniel Sammy, who also planned to compete.
“I had to train a bit harder for this race because Nandani was not going to be my pace keeper this time. The original idea was to give Nandani the medal first and then propose. As luck would have it, no medals were available for the runners that came with me across the line,” Maharaj said.
“With Daniel to goad me on, I held her hand and told her on one knee, ‘You may not have been my pace keeper for this race, but today you were my goal. Marry me babe.’”
Maharaj said he chose the race because UWI had been a major part of Dookhoo’s life and “the race itself represented an obstacle to overcome.”
Maharaj said his time for the race this year went well over his previous personal best.
“But to be honest, I ran this race not for a personal best. I was running towards the person who made me my best. My goal. My fiancé. My best critic and love of my life, Nandani,” he said.
However, he said without Sammy and Jessica Dookhran he would not have been able to plan the proposal properly.
Dookhoo said she was completely speechless by Maharaj’s proposal.
“We’ve been together so long and we knew we would get married eventually but I was totally caught off guard. It was mind-blowing,” Maharaj said.