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Thetford couple, who met through parkrun, Melanie and Richard Furness's wedding plans finally make it to the finish line after Covid delays




Some people say marriage is a marathon not a sprint, but for two Thetford runners just getting to the altar took a year-long route.

Melanie and Richard Furness tied the knot on August 14, at the fourth time of trying.

The pair met through Thetford parkrun, but got together in 2017, when Mel wanted a running partner for the Snetterton Race Track Half Marathon.

Richard and Melanie Furness on their wedding day. Pictures by Jean Stewart
Richard and Melanie Furness on their wedding day. Pictures by Jean Stewart

Mel said: “I put a message out, he said he wanted to do it and beat his personal best time.

“We ended up knocking about 10 minutes off that. Completely as an innocent thank you, he then invited me out to dinner and the rest is history.”

They set their wedding date for August 15 last year, at the beginning of 2020, to create a massive party weekend as it was a day before Mel’s 50th birthday – but that is when the problems started.

The couple’s wedding took place at Thetford Grammar School with the reception at The Mulberry Restaurant in the town
The couple’s wedding took place at Thetford Grammar School with the reception at The Mulberry Restaurant in the town

The couple had a reception venue but they could not do the date, they then were going to have a small register office wedding but the town’s office closed and just when they thought they had cracked it, the pandemic struck.

Mel said: “I started to hand out my wedding invites the week we then got shut down.

“Any normal person would have said that someone was trying to tell us not get married.”

But the pair, who have done more than 300 marathons between them, kept on course and booked it for August 2021 instead.

Richard and Melanie Furness on their wedding day
Richard and Melanie Furness on their wedding day

Mel said: “It was the right choice. Back in February/March last year no one had any idea what the scale of the pandemic was going to be.

“It was not the wedding prep we wanted but the pandemic was more important, we persevered and finally got there.”

There was one last hitch when Richard’s granddaughters, who were Mel’s bridesmaids, caught chickenpox the day before the wedding.

But three of Richard’s sisters stepped in as well as two donkeys from the Miniature Donkeys for Wellbeing charity, which Richard and Mel have supported over the years.

Mel said: “You could not make it up, all the obstacles we have been through. But this journey has brought us even closer together, if that was possible.”

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