Building a relationship through running

Paul and Gaynor Butler training together for their 25-year half-marathon journey across all 50 states in 2016. Courtesy of Paul and Gaynor Butler

Throughout the next quarter-century, one couple will run a total of 50 half marathons across all 50 states.

With their two children now in college, Paul and Gaynor Butler decided they wanted to be intentional about their relationship and their health, so they turned to running.

“We thought it would be fun to have a goal we could do together for the next 25 years,” Paul Gaynor said.  “We wanted to start something positive.”

Their goal is to complete a half-marathon every half-year until 2041.  The 25-year journey began Sunday at the Santa Clarita Marathon.

Paul Butler, a cyclist, and Gaynor Butler, a three-time marathon runner, said they did not miss a single training session preparing for the race.

“The good thing about training with Paul is that we get every training session in the calendar,” Gaynor Butler said.  “We haven’t missed a single training session so we feel so ready.”

The Butlers, emigrants from Chelsea, England, also wanted to do something that allowed them to see all of the United States and create memories as a couple.

“Sadly we just see so much divorce and we thought it would be nice to do something intentional together and to see this wonderful country together,” Paul Butler said.

The two fell in love with California and Santa Clarita after temporarily moving to the area for Paul’s job from 2001 to 2003.

In 2005, the Butlers permanently returned to the area and started their own business, Newleaf Training and Development, in Valencia.

“We travel a lot with our business and it’s so good to see America and the different regions and cultures and states,” Gaynor Butler said.

And in early 2017, Paul and Gaynor Butler will officially become United States citizens.

“I have to send a letter of resignation to the queen… I hope she doesn’t reject it,” Paul Butler joked.  “It’s such an awesome country and we’re so grateful to be here.”

The couple is looking forward to exploring every part of their new country during the next 25 years.

Gaynor Butler said she is most excited about seeing New Mexico and the south and Paul Butler said he is looking forward to seeing states on the east coast, like New England and Connecticut.

“A lot of people say they’re beautiful and look a lot like Chelsea, England, where we’re from,” Paul Butler said.

The next stop on their journey is Seattle, where the two will run the “Jack and Jill Downhill Half Marathon” in July.

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