Shan Riggs and Joshuaine (Josh) Grant’s 3,000-mile journey along the East Coast Greenway turned out to be an incomparable love story.
The ultrarunner and cyclist departed from Key West, Florida, on April 16 and reached Calais, Maine, 78 days later. The expedition ended with Riggs down on one knee asking his route partner to marry him and a resounding “yes” from Grant.
“Totally shocked. I was very surprised,” Grant told USA TODAY Sports days after she accompanied Riggs on the entire Greenway route on a bike, transporting their supplies with a trailer.
“He (Riggs) just ran 3,000 miles and kneeling down and getting back up again isn’t something that can easily be done after all those miles,” said Grant.
Side-by-side, Riggs and Grant traveled 40-50 miles per day.
“We did well as a team,” Riggs said. “And we’re pretty solid. So the whole trip, kind of confirms what I think we mostly knew.”
Although the proposal came as a surprise to Grant, Riggs shared that it was on his mind as he ran, and he knew he was going to ask Grant to be his wife once he reached the Northeast: “It was bubbling in my mind for quite some time and then maybe somewhere in the Northeast, like I don’t know, New York or New Hampshire.”
Riggs, 43, has completed 46 ultramarathon races and several multi-day expeditions all over the world raising money and awareness for a variety of charities.
In 2020, Riggs ran more than 3,200 miles from San Francisco to the Connecticut coast, completing a west-to-east run of the United States. But this trip on the Greenway was a new feat.
Riggs is the only known person to run the entire East Coast Greenway — a developing multi-use pathway and nonprofit that stretches from Florida to Maine.
“We’re building the East Coast Greenway for adventures large and small — from half-mile, family-friendly walks to 3,000-mile bike rides and runs like Shan and Josh’s people-powered journey,” East Coast Greenway Alliance Executive Director Dennis Markatos-Soriano told USA TODAY. “Their inspirational story has brought awareness to the many amazing segments of our Maine-to-Florida route and areas of need along our developing project.”
The couple’s expedition raised funds to support the nonprofit and raise awareness for the Greenway.
‘I don’t really know how I did it, but it worked’
The journey from the Southern-most point in the United States to the border of Canada came with a few obstacles.
“The biggest physical challenge was the heat,” Riggs said. “It was in the 90s and really humid for most of the trip.
“We set our alarm at 4 (am) or 4:30 (am) and you do that day-in, day-out over and over and over again.”
For Grant, the hardest part of the trip was towing all of the couple’s gear in a trailer.
Stopping at restaurants along the Greenway, park benches and even cemeteries, Grant managed to keep working during the 78-day trek at any quiet spot they could find. She juggled logging onto work via her laptop, taking calls and attending meetings all while cycling up the coast.
“I don’t really know how I did it, but it worked,” Grant said.
Push your limits, see what you’re made of
Beyond the opportunity the East Coast Greenway gave Riggs, the Connecticut-based runner, to see the country on-foot, Riggs says he enjoys the challenge of seeing what he’s made of.
“It’s really cool to be able to see the country on foot speed and really put together all these different cities and communities,” Riggs said. “Overall, I like doing these things for a few reasons. One is just seeing what you’re made of physically. And you know, (to see) where’s the limit of when things start to fall apart? And can you push past that?”
Grant’s why is simple: “I do like doing things that aren’t easy or things that people question why you’re doing it,” Grant said.
“I guess I’m still sort of excited about the trip home and looking forward to reliving all of the moments that kind of flew past because everything went so quickly… It was both a very long journey and yet it went by very quickly.
“I am also looking forward, of course to a future with this guy right here,” Grant said, adoringly sitting beside Riggs.
Now that their unforgettable journey along the coast is complete, their next expedition is saying “I do.”
Contact Analis Bailey at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @analisbailey.