It’s difficult to miss an 80-year old couple who run holding hands for every marathon. That’s what totally qualifies Margaret and J.R. Vaughn for our envy. Their love story dates back to 2012, when the two met on the dance floor of Tennessee bar while jiving to country music, just hours after Margaret had completed a half marathon.
They were both single at the time, as both of their spouses had passed away earlier in their lives. Although they weren’t necessarily looking for love, the pair hit it off immediately.That night, Margaret made sure to ask J.R. one thing: “Will you run with me?” J.R. was more than happy to, as long as she would continue to go dancing with him.
“We are so glad to be healthy and active together. We don’t do it for the glory, we do it to inspire others to do the same,” Margaret said.
“We are so lucky to have met each other and have so much in common,” Margaret told Runners World’s over the phone. “He loves square-dancing, and I love running. So we just put our two passions together.”
Hailing from Santa Fe, Margaret used to work for medical and fitness doctors to which she credits her practice of healthy eating. It was only after her son Jeff Woody, 53, started getting involved in the marathon scene in 2005 that Margaret decided to give running a try. Though she loved running, it took Margaret until 2012 to register for a race. She woke up one morning and decided to go to a local 5K where she won her age group, and got hooked to the sport.
Shortly after, J.R. became hooked on Margaret. He asked her out to dinner the very next day after they met on the dance floor. J.R. was so taken by Margaret that he went to the extent of even trading his steak for a piece of fish and veggies.
But there was one thing that was a little bit harder for J.R. to change:“He always wears a cowboy hat and boots so when we started running together, he thought he could run in his boots,” Margaret said.It took a little nudging on Margaret’s part to get J.R. to trade in his boots for a pair of “tennis shoes”- which J.R. sometimes swaps for cowboy boots.
“He tells me all day how much he loves me,” Margaret said. “He’s a true gentleman. It means the world to me to have someone like J.R. to live with, to love, and to inspire me every day.”
Margaret and J.R. like to get at least a mile or two in every day together, and up their mileage when they have an upcoming race.The pair married in 2013 and have now completed at least 30 races together including 5Ks (their favorite) and even half marathons. The cutest part? They run every single race, hand-in-hand, the entire time.
Even though J.R. can go faster than his wife now, but he never leaves her side. Every race they enter, they almost always win their age group, and they take turns letting each other cross the finish first.“He’s known as the man who pulls me up the hills,” Margaret said. “And we always cross the finish line together.”
When asked about their personal records, Margaret said they have completed a 5K in less than 40 minutes before, but quickly added that’s not why they do what they do. J.R. and Margaret’s hope is to inspire others their age, and younger, to take a page from their book. They want to spread the message that it’s never too late to start moving-and keep on moving.
To celebrate their passion for dancing, they still dance always in matching outfits. They also have a garden where they raise fresh vegetables, and happily share them with their neighbors. They go on bike rides and love to travel together, and want to plan more trips in the future. Could these two lovebirds be anymore adorable? When asked about future plans, they said that they want to take one day at a time and fit in races ( and dances) whenever they can.