Alex Dupont returned to Charleston and brought his bride with him.
Dupont, who traveled to the Holy City from Quebec, successfully defended his wheelchair championship Saturday during the 36th annual Cooper River Bridge Run.
He set a record last spring with a time of 25 minutes, 42 seconds over the 10-kilometer course. His time Saturday was 17 seconds off his pace, but he was still smiling. His wife, Ilana Duff Dupont, won the women’s division with a time of 30:17.
“I won last year, and I loved it last year,” Alex Dupont said. “I couldn’t expect a result like I had last year, but I tried. Most of the race wasn’t so bad except for the bridge. The bridge is really tough.”
Dupont was 17 years old when he lost his right leg in a motorcycle accident in 2003. He turned to wheelchair racing and was an elite racer five years later.
Ilana Duff Dupont, who was paralyzed in a horseback riding incident in 2000, was only one of two women entered in this year’s event. She knew her odds of winning were good.
“I spent a lot of time getting ready for this,” she said. “I practiced five days a week, so I was ready for the challenge.”
The couple met while competing at the 2007 international wheelchair and amputee sports world junior championships in Ireland. Duff Dupont competed in the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing and fared well. She won a bronze medal in the women’s 100 meters, finished fifth in the women’s 200 meters and sixth in the 400 meters.
The coupled headed to Marion Square for the post-race party and awards ceremony, and toured Charleston after that.
“It is a great day,” Alex Dupont said. “I had to push myself hard both years, but it’s not getting easier. I’m 27 and that bridge seemed taller.”
She said yes
Some guys will do anything to get their girlfriend to accept their marriage proposal.
Greenville resident Clint Davis faked an injury on top of the Cooper River Bridge and then proposed to Sarah Smith of Spartanburg.
Davis fell to the pavement, got up on his knee and told Smith, “I can’t go any further without you” as he pulled out a diamond ring.
She said yes without hesitation.
“I really thought he fell and hurt himself,” Smith said. “Everyone around us seemed concerned. But he pulled out the ring and everyone started cheering. I started to cry. I am still in a state of shock.”
Davis planned the engagement caper more than a year ago when he ran in his first Cooper River Bridge Run. He thought Saturday was a perfect time to pop the question since it “was a good excuse to get the families together.”
Team Semper Fi
The Semper Fi Fund sent 10 members from Team Semper Fi to take part in the Bridge Run. The team has taken part in the race for seven straight years, and is now an official charity of the event.
Team Semper Fi is the heart and inspiration of the Semper Fi Fund’s rehabilitative Athletic Program. The team is made up of servicemen and women who have overcome significant challenges in their service to their country, and have embraced the fighting, athletic spirit on their road to recovery.
The Semper Fi Fund provides the team with coaches, specialized sporting equipment, entry fees, and travel expenses to athletic events. TSF members are also given the opportunity to receive high-level training from former and current Olympic and Paralympic through the U.S. Paralympics.
Malcolm Campbell of Georgia was the male Masters’ winner with a time of 31.00, and Ilona Baranova of Ukraine won the female division with a time of 35.00.
Susi Smith of Greenville won the female Grand Masters’ race with a time of 41.33, and Marc Embler of Folly Beach won the male Grand Masters with a time of 36.19. He won the 1981 Cooper River Bridge Run.
Mimi Sturgill of Kiawah Island won the female Senior Grand Masters race in 45.21. Richard Banning of Florida won the male division in 39.23.
Caitlin Schier and Michael Banks won the Marcus Newberry Award. The awards are given to the top female and male finishers who live in Charleston, Berkeley or Dorchester Counties. Schier’s time was 37.47 while Banks’ time was 30.14.
Follow Philip M. Bowman on Twitter: @PandCPhil