The couple that runs together

  • Published
  • By Maj. Roxy Hambleton
  • 482nd Force Support Squadron

A Homestead Air Reserve Base couple set a goal to make an active lifestyle a priority and this goal culminated in the completion of their first marathon this month.

Tech. Sgt. Chase Provencher, a Radar Technician with the 482nd Maintenance Squadron and his wife, Magda Gelves-Provencher, competed in the Air Force Marathon, their first, and want to share how the experience was not only exciting and worthwhile, but bonding for them as a couple.

Provencher and Magda, married nine years, have led an active lifestyle since they met. They even were married 25 feet under water in SCUBA gear, Provencher in a wet suite and bow tie, Magda, in a wet suit and white veil.

Two years before meeting Provencher, Magda weighed 285 pounds and realized she needed to make a drastic life change. She began to eat healthier and include exercise in her daily regimen. By the time she met Provencher, she had lost over 100 pounds.

After their first son was born, Magda decided to try CrossFit to lose weight. Provencher believed it might be a little extreme, but it was exactly what Magda loved. She continued to CrossFit through her second pregnancy up through 33 weeks, and after their second son, she included running in her exercise regime.

She recruited her husband to join her in her runs and in 2016, they ran their first 5K which Provencher says, “At the time, a 5K seemed like a really long distance!”

Their joint running partnership was interrupted by a four-month deployment when Provencher deployed to Qatar to join a maintenance group and employ his Radar Technician skills in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

While in Qatar, Provencher sent Magda a double running stroller as a gift. Provencher’s wingmen at the 482nd Maintenance Squadron helped her put it together. She put both boys in and has been running longer distances ever since.

Provencher, while in Qatar, continued his running by running 5K events put on by the expeditionary wing.

Once back from Qatar, Magda suggested a half marathon and Provencher said, “Why?” He was not interested in running over a 5K. “He was happy with his mile and a half PT runs” says Magda. But at some point, Magda prevailed. They ran their first half marathon in January of 2018 and have never looked back.

But a full marathon was still quite the endeavor. Magda was on board, but Provencher had his doubts. Then one day Provencher realized he had to identify this goal. He wrote, “I, Chase Provencher, will run 26.2 miles with my wife at the Air Force Marathon in September.” According to Provencher, “that was the first time I had ever written a goal, and I knew I had to in order to commit to it.”

They chose the Air Force Marathon, their first, because “we love the Air Force” said Magda. They hired a coach and began training in earnest in January of 2019.

The training was not hard, but training in the summer months in Florida was hard. “It takes sacrifice to stick to a running program and still ensure your family is number one,” said Magda.

Along with training for the marathon, Provencher and his wife tried to involve family and friends as much as possible. For her birthday, Magda invited everyone to “run/walk a mile for me” and they did! “It’s wonderful to see friends begin an exercise program, I know firsthand how important exercise can be.”

Come marathon day they flew to Ohio and were ready to go. After eight months of training they were nervous, but ready to run their first marathon together. Side-by-side they ran the 26.2 miles.

Along the way, the most emotional part of the race was the “Fallen Heroes Mile” where the photographs of Airmen killed in action were displayed along with their name and age. “That was very sobering” said Provencher. “We could not look at each other,” said Magda, “It was so emotional to see these young men and women who had given everything for their country.”

Ultimately, the training paid off and the couple crossed the finish line in tandem. “We have crossed every finish line holding hands,” said Magda.

“The best part of the marathon was the training,” said Magda. “We earned the medal in the training” said Provencher. “To have a goal, a goal that we shared as a couple really brought us closer together.”

“And to be able to make our first marathon the Air Force Marathon, which is a tribute to our service, is even more special” said Provencher. “It was an honor,” said Magda “and we encourage anybody in the Air Force who wants to make a marathon their goal to look into the Air Force Marathon—it’s the best one!”