Shan Riggs and Joshuaine (Josh) Grant’s 3,000-mile journey along the East Coast Greenway turned out to be a love story like no other.
The ultrarunner and cyclist left Key West, Florida on April 16 and arrived in Calais, Maine 78 days later. The expedition ended with Riggs getting on one knee and asking his route partner to marry him, and a resounding ‘yes’ from Grant.
“Totally shocked. I was very surprised,” Grant told USA TODAY Sports Days after accompanying Riggs on her bike throughout the Greenway route and transporting her supplies with a trailer.
“He (Riggs) just ran 3,000 miles and getting on your knees and getting up after all those miles isn’t easy,” Grant said.
Side by side, Riggs and Grant covered 40-50 miles a day.
“We did well as a team,” said Riggs. “And we’re pretty solid. So the whole trip kind of confirms what I think we mostly knew.”
Though the proposal came as a surprise to Grant, Riggs shared that he had it on his mind as he ran and he knew he would ask Grant to be his wife once he reached the Northeast: “It pretty much boiled in my head at one point and then.” maybe somewhere in the Northeast, like I don’t know, New York or New Hampshire.”
Riggs, 43, has completed 46 ultramarathon races and several multi-day expeditions around the world raising money and awareness for a variety of charities.
In 2020, Riggs ran more than 3,200 miles from San Francisco to the Connecticut coast, completing a west-to-east run across the United States. But this drive on the greenway was a new achievement.
Riggs is the only known person to operate the entire East Coast Greenway – an evolving multipurpose trail and non-profit organization that stretches from Florida to Maine.
“We’re building the East Coast Greenway for adventures big and small — from family-friendly half-mile walks to 3,000-mile bike rides and runs like Shan and Josh’s people-powered journey,” said Dennis Markatos, executive director of the East Coast Greenway Alliance -Soriano told USA TODAY. “Your inspiring story has raised awareness of the many amazing stretches of our Maine to Florida route and areas of need along our development project.”
The couple’s expedition raised funds to support the non-profit organization and raise awareness of the Greenway.
“I don’t really know how I did it, but it worked”
The journey from the southernmost point of the United States to the border of Canada presented some obstacles.
“The biggest physical challenge was the heat,” Riggs said. “It was very muggy in the 90’s and most of the trip.
“We set our alarm for 4 (AM) or 4:30 (AM) and you do it day in and day out over and over and over again.”
For Grant, the hardest part of the trip was towing all of the couple’s gear in a trailer.
Stopping at restaurants along the Greenway, park benches, and even cemeteries, Grant managed to keep working in every quiet spot they could find throughout the 78-day trek. She had to use her laptop to log in to work, take calls, and attend meetings while pedaling up the coast.
“I don’t really know how I did it, but it worked,” Grant said.
Go to your limits, see what you’re made of
Aside from the opportunity the East Coast Greenway gave Riggs, the Connecticut-based runner, to explore the country on foot, Riggs says he enjoys the challenge of seeing what he’s made of.
“It’s really cool to be able to see the country on foot and really bring all these different cities and communities together,” Riggs said. “Overall, I enjoy doing these things for a number of reasons. One is just seeing what you are physically made of. And do you know (to see) where the line is where things fall apart? And can you go beyond that? ?”
Grant’s why is simple: “I like to do things that aren’t easy, or things that make people question why you’re doing it,” Grant said.
“I think I’m still pretty excited about the journey home and looking forward to reliving all the moments that kind of flew by because it all went so fast… It’s been a very long journey and yet it went by very quickly .
“I’m obviously looking forward to a future with this guy, too,” said Grant, sitting adoringly next to Riggs.
Now that her unforgettable journey along the coast is complete, her next expedition says “Yes, I do”.
Contact Analis Bailey at email@example.com or on Twitter @analisbailey.