Song Yang Yang had two goals at the OSIM Sundown Marathon 2017; the first was to win the Men’s Half Marathon category. and the second was to propose to his girlfriend, Liang Ning. These two goals were by no means easy feats.
Even though Song Yang Yang faced tough competition against local and international elite runners, Song triumphed with 1:20:54, ahead of Singaporean Evan Chee (1:22:31) and German Matt Hoffmann (1:24:42). He did this while securing his proposal ring to his shirt with a safety pin!
Song came from Linyi, Shandong Province, while Liang came from Xi’an, Shanxi Province. Both Song and Liang share the love for running before they even knew each other. Song met Liang by fate in the university they were studying in, from then onwards, love blossomed between them and running became a part of their lifestyle.
Now, they are happily married. RunSociety talked to Mr and Mrs Song to find out more about their love story, how the proposal was carried out, and what happened after the proposal in this exclusive interview.
RS: Tell us about yourself.
Mr Song: My name is Mr Song Yang Yang, and I am a Marathon Coach.
Mrs Song: My name is Liang Ning, and I am a teacher.
RS: How long have you both been dating?
Mr Song: We have been together for almost 5 years.
RS: What is the most memorable experience that both of you have been through together as a couple?
Mrs Song: My most memorable memory of him was the time when I was about to graduate from the University and my husband was due to graduate a year later than me as he entered University later. Most people would think that couples tend to break up upon graduation. And I’ll be honest, it was indeed difficult for me as we live very far from each other, more than 1,000km. However, my husband never once had any thoughts of breaking up with me. When I saw his determination to make our relationship works as well as his sense of responsibility, it was then I knew he was the one.
The first time he met my parents, he actually still hasn’t graduated from University, but he made a promise to my parents that he would provide a loving home for us. True to his words, he fulfilled his promise. For a University student who hasn’t even graduated yet to make such a promise like this, the promise brought an immense amount of stress on him, but he kept to his words. I was truly touched and humbled by his actions.
Mr Song: To me, I feel that my wife isn’t someone who will go all out to do something really sweet and touching for me. But I’m sure that she is someone who is very sentimental and will always look out for me and provide me with the support I need silently. She gave up a good job opportunity for me, and I’ll never forget that. She told me a sentence that I will always remember when I feel distraught about work. She said, “Just do what you love, do something that you are good at, and you will be happy and confident. Confidence is a value that a man should never lose.” To the contrary, she chose to follow me and my dreams, leaving her friends and family behind to go to a faraway place with me. And this made me realise that she is a gem sent to me by the heaven.
RS: Tell us about how the two of you met.
Mr Song: We attended the same University. I vividly remember that during one particular weekend, I was at the running track exercising. That weekend, there were very few students at the running track, and I caught sight of someone wearing a full black sporty outfit and she looked really attractive. While she was running a few rounds around the track, I found myself sneaking glances at her. And when she was just about to complete her run, I plucked up my courage and asked for her contact number. She didn’t agree to give me her mobile number but decided to add me as a friend on WeChat, a messaging app in China.
RS: When and why both of you started running?
Mr Song: I started running since I was in Secondary school. From there, I became a professional athlete. As for my wife, she jogs to maintain a healthy lifestyle. She only started running a lot more after getting to know me.
RS: How did you find out about Sundown Marathon? How long have you been participating in this race?
Mr Song: One of my good friends actually register me for the Sundown Marathon. Sundown Marathon 2017 was our first time participating.
RS: Which race category did the both of you participate in?
Mr Song: I registered for the Men’s Half Marathon, and my wife accompanied me there.
RS: How did the proposal happen?
Mr Song: I always wanted to give my wife a romantic proposal, and since Sundown Marathon was held at night, I knew it will definitely add on to the romantic ambience. I intend to only propose to my wife if I emerged as a champion. Thus, when I started running from the beginning, I didn’t run alongside my running partner, but I pushed forward amongst the crowd and kept a steady pace in the first place.
My wife would never have imagined that I would propose to her in Singapore, so throughout the whole proposal process, she was really surprised by everything. As I was uncertain if I could clinch the championship in the run, I didn’t buy any roses for my proposal. It was quite a pity that I didn’t get any flowers for her. During the run, I also purposely used a safety pin to pin the ring on my shirt, as I didn’t want my sweat to dirty the ring. My wife was very touched when she found out about this.
Throughout the whole proposal process, I felt very emotional as I couldn’t believe that the girl who has always been by my side, silently supporting me ever since University, has finally agreed to marry me.
RS: Why did you choose that day to propose? What made you want to propose at the Sundown Marathon?
Mr Song: I specially chose that day to propose to my wife as I felt that it was special that the Sundown Marathon actually flags off at night, and there were also special light effects, as well as a live band performance. Also, we were flagged off under the Singapore Flyer. The whole atmosphere just seemed romantic and exciting, and I believed that if I proposed to her on this very special night, it would be etched deeply in her memory.
RS: How long have you been planning this proposal?
Mr Song: Before I flew to Singapore, I have already packed the ring nicely into my luggage. I actually didn’t even inform my running partner who came along with me, I only told him about my plans that in the short few hours after I clinched the championship. He was definitely very supportive and did his best to accommodate my requests. We communicated with the emcee on stage about the proposal, and romantic background music started playing. The next thing I knew, I was on my knee, asking for my then-girlfriend to be my wife. We received so many blessings from people around us, runners who came from different countries and walks of life. I am definitely very appreciative towards everyone there on that day!
RS: Who were involved in the planning of the proposal?
Mr Song: I actually did all the preparation myself. I only told my running buddy about my proposal plans after I was announced as champion, and we managed to come up with a simple plan despite the lack of time.
RS: Is it all smooth as expected?
Mr Song: It was definitely way out of my expectation! The crowd was so accommodating, cheering us on with my proposal. Of course, my wife was very taken aback by what was happening and kept shedding tears of joy.
RS: Do you still remember how you felt before the proposal?
Mr Song: I definitely was feeling very nervous and emotional; however, I was also feeling very touched at the same time.
Mrs Song: I was very surprised and taken aback by his proposal. I didn’t think that he would propose on stage in front of everyone. I definitely felt very touched and blissful in that moment.
RS: How has life been after the proposal?
Mr Song: Honestly, there is no big difference before and after we got married. We feel like it is still the same like old times when we were dating, getting used to each other’s living habits. Perhaps, the most rewarding thing is that we became a loving family.
RS: What are you most looking forward to in your future as a couple?
Mr Song: We have never really planned what kind of persons we would like to be in future, or what kind of lives we want to lead. Wherever we are in future, what matters most is that we spend each and every day to the best and to the fullest.
RS: They say the couple who runs together, stays together. What do you think of this statement?
Mr Song: Firstly, running had tremendous health benefits to our body, and running allows you to have a better positive outlook on life. We run often together, and because of that, we have more common topics and thus helping us in maintaining a stable relationship.
RS: Do you suggest that couples should run and attend this sort of running events together? Do you think it will strengthen the relationship?
Mr Song: We are of course very supportive of couples who run marathons together. You can accompany your other half and be that person’s pillar of support. Actually, as cliché as this may sound, life is just like running a marathon; in this journey, you may feel tired, or maybe at times you feel like giving up, but with your partner’s company and support, you are able to pull through the various hardships you both faced. And this will definitely improve the relations between both parties.
RS: Will you be attending OSIM Sundown Marathon 2018 this year?
Mr Song: We are actually in the midst of planning our race schedule, and if time permits, we definitely would want to participate in Sundown Marathon 2018.
As a runner, what do you think is the most romantic way to propose? And when is the most romantic time to do so? Will you propose on Valentine’s day?