Runner motivated by love, marriage proposal finishes third in Cowtown Marathon

Some wondered aloud whether the strain of 26.2 miles had left Gabriel Zambrano delirious.

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Some wondered aloud whether the strain of 26.2 miles had left Gabriel Zambrano delirious.

Was this man really running his first marathon and then on to Waterloo in one day?

But, no, he was of sound mind and body … and in very much in love.

That the 24-year-old Zambrano finished third in his first completed 26.2-mile race on Sunday morning was cause for joy, but he was just getting started.

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After crossing the finish line at the Cowtown Marathon, he got on bended knee and proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Alyssa Rodriguez.

She said “absolutely yes.”

“I actually made plans last year when I placed fourth in the half, seeing her excitement, and she saw how happy I was,” said Zambrano, who carried the ring in a pocket during the run. “I saw the look on her face and I said, ‘I want to marry this girl.’”

Zambrano was more than a little impressive on Sunday, running with eventual marathon champion Andrew Cook and runner-up Bernard Too for about 22 miles.

He had actually said last year as part of his big plans this year that he was going to win the marathon. “I was hoping to win it, but a marathon is no joke.”

Neither is marriage.

“A lot of people say in a marathon you have to dig deep when you hit that wall. I hit that wall, and me digging deep was feeling the ring in my pocket.”

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