Runaway bride dreams of Olympic—and wedding—rings

By Jonathan Batuello  |  BSU at the Games

In two months, Stephanie Garcia will put on a white wedding dress and a gold band. She hopes to wear a few different things before, though—a red U.S. Olympic uniform and a gold medal.

Garcia, a steeplechaser, has been running and lifting for hours nearly everyday in preparation for the Olympic trials this week, on top of planning her wedding and finishing a master’s thesis in English literature at the University of Virginia. While just one of these might be enough for some people, Garcia has found the work load helpful.

“I love being busy. It’s kind of fun doing my training and then going home and doing wedding plans,” she said. “If I’m too stressed about running I can go look at bridesmaids’ dresses or too stressed about the wedding budget and planning I can go do a run and forget about it.”

Garcia’s fiance, John Jefferson, is also a runner in the 1500 meters, so the wedding influenced the date the couple picked. They had to wait until after the Olympic Games, but even the Sept. 22 date they choose had a potential roadblock.

“The weekend of us getting married is a big race, the last road race, in New York City, but (the wedding party) all said yes, they could make it, so that’s good,” Garcia said.

This week Garcia’s focus isn’t on floral arrangements or reception dinners, but running and avoiding a crucial mistake during the Olympic trial finals on Friday in Eugene, Ore. The steeplechase requires participants to run 3000 meters, equivalent to seven and a half laps, with five hurdles and a larger hurdle that lands in water to jump each time around the track. The biggest fear is slipping in the water, something she did at last year’s USA Championships.

Garcia was in third and going over the last water jump when she fell and took a little swim. It ended up costing her a place as she finished fourth. It was the worst possible moment to fall, she said.

A similar tumble this year could cost Garcia a trip to London. The top three finishers make it to the Olympic Games as long as they have finished under the Olympic standard time, which she did in a previous meet.

Now she just needs to stay calm and avoid déjà vu.

“I try to think of this as just another opportunity to have another race. I don’t want to run the race of my life at the trials, I want to run the race of my life in the Olympics,” Garcia said.

No matter what, Garcia still will have an important distance to cover. Granted, she can go a little slower down the aisle.

Look for our full story on Stephanie Garcia coming soon by BSU at the Games.

Jonathan Batuello is pursuing a Master’s of Journalism at Ball State University and covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Jonathan and the BSU team at @jcbatuello@bsuatthegames and

Author: ColleenSteffen

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