Your Pace or Mine: The Dashing Duos of The Whippets

By Patricia Tirona

What is so great about runners dating each other?  Assuming the couple has more in common than running, that shared interest is a bonus, strengthening an already strong bond.   The two-runner couple can do destination races together, and embrace at the finish line with sweaty hugs. They excitedly discuss each other’s training plans, motivate each other, and give props post-race, all with the understanding of what it truly means to be a runner. Of course, there are a lot of sweaty clothes and running shoes to reckon with.

I have nothing against the one-runner couple, but a lot of my friends are also Dashing Duos for whom running is the frosting on their carb-laden cake.  Thank you to the couples who answered my questions and gave some personal accounts of their lives together.

Dashing Duo #1: Sam and Yumiko

Sam Burlingame and Yumiko Higaki are married and live in Brooklyn.  Sam has always been an active Whippet, and he brought Yumiko onto the team. Their notable running events done as a couple include the May 2016 Hood to Philly Relay on Team GuTangClan, May 2015 Thirsty Warriors NBR Relay, as well as the Valentine’s Day 5k in Prospect Park, Brooklyn Half Marathon, and Vermont City Marathon in 2013.

I couldn’t stop laughing about the story of how they met…
It was love at first sight!  Sam watched in awe as Yumiko stripped all the leftover meat from a turkey carcass at a mutual friend’s party, and Yumiko fell for Sam’s taste in colorful sneakers and delectable dumplings, not to mention his penchant for cheek pecks. But much like that turkey, neither Sam nor Yumiko had the guts to ask the other out, so that same mutual friend gently nudged them towards each other with a few helpful hints and ten digits a piece. They were both super busy, but managed to meet for brunch one cold sunny Sunday, then a beer at Pacific Standard the following Tuesday, and the rest is history.

What are some pros to dating a runner?
We have enough stinky workout clothes to run the washing machine!  There’s always an extra set of alarms chiming at 5:30 am on race day…let’s go go go!  We have made several close mutual friends with common interests and similar schedules through running.

What are some cons to dating a runner?  
Way too many matching race t-shirts.

How has this compared to past non-running relationships?
Being in a relationship with another runner is magical.  It brings your psyches in line on another plane that parallels and informs many aspects of your life as one.  We sympathize with each other’s struggles, share each other’s pain and support each other’s goals, in running  and beyond!   Actually, neither of us has ever been in a relationship with a running mate but the biggest difference between this and past relationships is that we actually mated!  (Sam and Yumiko recently brought new Whippette, Maya, into the world three months ago).

How has having a baby affected your schedule?
There are definitely a lot more planning sessions and a lot less miles logged, and we always run at different times now. We can’t wait to run as a family once Maya grows into her Baby Jogger. Surprisingly enough, Matt Wong has not tried to recruit her yet, but we are sure she will be ready for her first race once Scott Batten finishes writing up his training plan for infants.

Dashing Duo #2: Jessie and Louis

Jessie Zacarro and Louis Pelino are Brooklyn Whippets who met at a team meetup.  They both enjoy run-exploring during their vacations and have done several costumed relays, trail races, and a Ragnar Trail relay.  Topic diversity can be an issue in conversations, but the pros of dating a runner have definitely outpace the cons for these two.  

Jessie thought Louis was pretty dashing and thankfully he raced to ask her out.
We met on the team. I saw Louis a couple times and thought he was cute, but I kept it to myself.  Then one day he messaged my best friend asking her to introduce us.

They bring up the romantic and practical benefits of the runner relationship.
Free sports massages.  One of the biggest ways this relationship differs from non-running relationships that we have been in is the understanding of what it takes to be a runner.  We understand the time that has to be put into training, especially if we are aiming for a PR.  Another difference is just being able to go on a run together and not have to worry about someone having to stop and walk a few times along the way!”

Dashing Duo #3: Ellen and Ning

Brooklyn duo Ellen Manuszak and Ning Zhou met at one of the now defunct Wednesday AM runs from the East Village in July 2012.  They would finally have that first date after the Brooklyn Half in May 2013, (DWRT Post Pints Pints can lead to much more than re-hydration), finally culminating in their wedding in September 2015.

Their pros include running mate empathy and the lack of TMI.
The obvious is that the other understands how important running and training is and doesn’t begrudge the other the time needed.  It was easy to spend time with each other early on because we’d do workouts together during the week.  Though for me was that you’d already been totally disgusting/sweaty/probably talked about your toilet habits in front of the other person so there’s really little need for fronting after that.

They claim few cons, aside from too many shoes in one apartment and maybe too many race related trips.
Versus past non-running relationships, with each other they again go into TMI territory. There’s more talk about poop…

Dashing Duo #4: Rich and Heather 

Rich Hsieh, one of the co-founders of the Dashing Whippets, met Heather Weneck through a former coworker.  Flash forward to sharing a Brooklyn apartment, adopting Gnocchi the cat, and getting engaged on top of Mount Beacon, they dish on some fun dashes including one from wild dogs!

How did you meet?
We met through a mutual friend who Heather knew from her Pittsburgh Penguins Meetup and Rich knew from work at Meetup. We started running into each at races and when Heather posted that she had a stress fracture and had to wear a boot, Rich swooped in and asked her to go to a birthday party in Astoria near where she lived. We ended up chatting all night and the rest is history!

What are the pros of being a running couple?
We can travel and do destination runs/races together!  (Somehow we always find some weird local race to do on vacation or a crazy running experience i.e. being chased by stray dogs in Thailand.)

It’s nice to be with someone who understands the crazy of training and who really gets the ups and downs of working towards a running goal…yes, foam rolling counts as Friday night fun.  And on that note, we get that Friday nights need to be chill if we’re doing a long run or race on a Saturday morning.

Weekend long runs together. (And brunch after!)

What are the cons of being a running couple?
Haha.  Are there any?  Well, for one, there are a lot of stinky running clothes hanging around our apartment!  SO MUCH LAUNDRY! It can also be tough if one of us is injured…feeling bad that the other can’t run or watching your partner be able to run if you can’t.

And lastly, their gold medal answer to how this relationship compares to past non-running relationships:
Clearly those don’t matter because this is the one that stuck. 😉

If you think being part of a Dashing Duo is for you, don’t be shy, go up to that runner post-race/workout, and ask him/her for that easy run.  A scenic, sunset run followed by no-shower happy hour is a great first date alternative to chatting over pricey drinks and tiny tapas in a loud bar.  Afterwards you can upload your runs and give each other kudos.  Dating a runner doesn’t always work out but when it does, you can turn a crappy weather day into a romantic rainy or snow-day run while keeping each other accountable and working towards your race and life goals.

More about Dashing Whippets Running Team

The Dashing Whippets Running Team is a New York based running team that is founded on, and driven by, the diversity of our team members. With team members from all over the city, the country and the world, and with greatly different running goals, we find unity in recognizing and appreciating each others differences and our mutual enjoyment of running and participating in the New York running community and beyond.

2 thoughts on “Your Pace or Mine: The Dashing Duos of The Whippets

  1. Carolina Pena

    OMG!!!! Now I am jealous of all these couples, I am missing so much!! Patricia, I loved this post. The best part….Mathew Wong and his recruiting. Poor baby….


    1. Patricia Tirona

      Aw Carolina, right? He’ll figure out a way to get Sky and Tommy’s baby back from Texas too. I’ve seen so many relationships blossom in the running community and I couldn’t be more thrilled for them. Thank you for reading it and commenting!


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