Ice Sculpture Included: Race Prize Helps Couple Plan Their Dream Wedding

While his victory at last weekend’s Wedding Fun Run 5K in Phoenix, Arizona, may not be the biggest win of 2008 Olympian Andrew Lemoncello’s running career, he has the satisfaction of knowing that he helped one couple win a day they will remember forever.

Lemoncello ran 15:08 and led team “Emily and Alex” to victory, helping Emily Fortunate, 27, and Alex Mason, 28, win roughly $45,000 worth of goods and services that will help them plan their dream wedding.

The race fit well with Lemoncello’s training and racing plans, so when Mason asked for Lemoncello’s help, he was glad to oblige.

“I remember what it was like getting married and thought this was a fantastic opportunity for a couple to get an amazing prize and not have some of the worries that come along with a wedding,” Lemoncello says.

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The first-time event was the brainchild of Nick DiLello, the owner of the Phoenix Bridal Show, which was held the following day. To be eligible to win the grand prize, each five-person team needed to include a bride- or groom-to-be in the scoring.

When Fortunate, a recreational runner, and Mason, a 4:04 miler who ran for Georgetown, heard about the race, they knew they could have a good shot at winning, with some help from their friends.They only learned about the race six days in advance, however, which didn’t leave them much time to assemble a team.

Mason reached out to his friends in the Phoenix and Flagstaff running communities to see if anyone was interested in helping him out. In addition to Lemoncello, he learned that Adam Vess, a professional runner from Team Run Flagstaff, was willing to help out. Though Vess is planning his own wedding, he didn’t have time to get his own team together. Instead, he volunteered his services to Mason and Fortunate, and ended up finishing second overall in 15:19.

As they asked around, Fortunate and Mason learned that most of the fast runners in the area were just learning about the event as well, which worked in their favor.

Mason’s friend from high school, Keegan Healey, also agreed to run for team “Emily and Alex,” and his 15:51 narrowly earned him third overall in the race. Mason, who runs mostly for fun now and says he does anywhere from zero to 60 miles per week, finished fifth overall in 16:03. Luke Mason, Alex’s 16-year-old brother, secured the victory for the team when he finished ninth in 16:48. Their cumulative time put them more than eight minutes ahead of the second-place team.

Though Fortunate didn’t have to run the race for her team to win, she wanted to.

“Emily and I really bond over being active so we definitely both wanted to be part of the team,” Mason says of his fiancée, who finished in 26:57.

Fortunate and Mason were already planning to get married in Phoenix in October, but they haven’t worked out many of the details, so the race’s prize works out perfectly for them.

“These prizes really afford us a lot more than we necessarily would have had,” Fortunate says. “For example, we were going to have flowers, but we were going to do our own bouquets and really minimize the amount of flowers. But now, we’ve been given a flower package, so now we’re able to have [professionally-done] flowers at our wedding.”

Included in the prize package were the services of a photographer, videographer, DJ, and wedding planner, as well as a venue, dress, cake, and photo booth, among other things.

While some of the goods and services included in the package are ones that Fortunate and Mason would have paid for had they funded the wedding on their own, the race’s prize package will allow them to add fun details—like a candy buffet and an ice sculpture—that they otherwise wouldn’t have splurged on.

“It’s all just a huge benefit and we’re so grateful to have won it,” Fortunate says.

They’re still thinking about what form they would like their ice sculpture to take.

“My suggestion was running shoes, with maybe our names in the shoes or something, since we did win this through a running event,” Fortunate says.

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