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David & Megan Roche: Fleet-Footed Trail Running Soul Mates

These newlyweds will represent the U.S. at the World Mountain Running Championships on Sept. 14 in Italy.

Newlyweds David and Megan Roche ran for the U.S. at the 2014 World Mountain Running Championships on Sept. 14 in Italy.

[Update: Megan Roche was the second American in the 8.4K senior women’s race, placing 21st overall in 52:09, while David Roche placed 59th (sixth on the U.S. team) in 1:03:40 in the 11.7K senior men’s race.]

The couple that plays together—or in this case runs together—stays together.

That’s the thinking of newlyweds David and Megan Roche (nee Deakins), one of America’s fastest trail running couples. The fleet-footed soul mates tied the knot three weeks ago in Aspen, Colo., and then won U.S. 10K trail running championships on a mini honeymoon the following weekend in North Carolina.

Want to know what one of their favorite wedding gifts was? A newly signed sponsorship with the Nike Trail Elite team, something they unwrapped just last week.

“It’s been pretty amazing so far,” David says. “Megan is the ultimate life partner, which includes running. With Megan at my side, I am so excited to wake up every morning at 5 a.m. When we run together, that enthusiasm is infectious and it has transformed me as an athlete since we met. And with other parts of life, the same infectious enthusiasm has made me a better person.”

The Roches, who live in Sunnyvale, Calif., will be taking another honeymoon of sorts to Italy next week, when they represent the U.S. at the World Mountain Running Championships on Sept. 14 in Casette di Massa, Italy. They qualified for America’s team at the U.S. Mountain Running Championships on July 6 at the Loon Mountain Run in Lincoln, N.H., with Megan fourth place in the 4.8-mile women’s race and David sixth in the 7-mile men’s race.

PHOTOS: Images From The Ridiculously Steep Loon Mountain Run

The couple met at Duke University in 2010 when David was a first-year law student and Megan was an undergrad playing on the field hockey team. They dated for three years before getting engaged last August. Megan, 24, is now a second year medical student at Stanford, while David, 26, is an attorney with the Environmental Law Institute.

Based on their recent adventures, the Roches seem to do a good job balancing intensity and fun. They share a passion for running, but also have a playful zest for life as well as a mutual love for ice cream and their spaniel/retriever mix puppy, Addie. (On the way to a trail run in North Carolina in early 2013, they came across a farmer who was giving away free puppies from his pick-up truck on the side of the road. How could they pass up an opportunity like that? “What she lacks in pedigree she makes up for in enthusiasm for people, dogs, inanimate objects, gusts of wind, etc,” David says.)

They couple will have a 24-hour travel day on the way to Italy next Wednesday. Megan will use the time to study for her first final exam that she’ll take remotely the day after the world championship race, while David will be working to meet a legal deadline.

“What the flight lacks in romantic interaction, we hope to make up for with a massive gelato date as soon as we land,” David says.

Since David moved from Washington D.C., to California earlier this year, they’ve trained together about 75 percent of the time, even though they’ll occasionally do different workouts. What should come as no surprise, David proposed to Megan after a 12-mile trail run. That happened a year ago near Stinson Beach north of San Francisco. He got down on one knee and unwrapped a cherry Ring Pop novelty candy that he had carried on the run.

“David is my coach and physical therapist as well as my running partner. With all of the hectic things in life, it’s really great to know that there will be that constant support.” Megan says. “No matter what happens with school, running, or anything else, he’ll be there smiling.”

David and Megan got married on Aug. 16 near Aspen, Colo. But before they tied the knot, they galvanized their vows by running 15 miles up 12,096-foot Independence Pass, followed by a rigorous 15-mile mountain bike ride together. They had their wedding photographer follow them to document the epic run and part of the ride and even pinned on fake race bibs with their wedding date “81714” serving as their matching race numbers.

“From the beginning, David has been my adventure buddy. If we had known each other when we were 4, we would have climbed trees and played on the playground all day,” Megan says. “Now, we like to explore the trails and have other life adventures every day. So we knew that our wedding had to be one big sun-up to sundown adventure, preferably going up and down mountains until it was time to kiss and eat cake.”

A few hours later, they were looking shiny and bright in their wedding attire, with smiles on their faces knowing that they had an epic morning of endurance pursuits and a pretty good idea there were plenty more to come.

“We had just enough time to take a shower, get dressed and do my hair,” Megan says. “But the best part of the day was being together doing things we love to do.”

RELATED: Tips For Running With Your Significant Other

Before they got married this summer, David and Megan tore it up on the trails all spring and summer, often winning (and setting course records) at the same races.

For example, they set new course records at the Mile Run Trail Challenge Half Marathon on March 29 in Milton, Pa., where David won in 1:31, while Megan was fourth overall (tops among women) in 1:43. They did it again at the Table Rock 27K on July 19 in Stinson Beach, Calif. David won that hilly race in 1:53:42 (6 minutes ahead of the next runner), while Megan won with a 10-minute margin in 2:07:52.

On Aug. 2 in Park City, Utah, they each won the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase—a 16-mile trail race with 3,000 feet of elevation change—in record-setting fashion. That was the final race of the La Sportiva Mountain Cup, a nationwide series of races in which they each finished third in the final points standings. Their schedules didn’t allow to do a full complement of five races, but Megan did three and won each one in course-record times while David did four and won three. (He might have won all of his races, too, but he suffered two broken ribs after falling during the Don’t Fence Me In 30K on May 10 in Helena, Mont., and wound up sixth.)

On Aug. 23 in Laurel, N.C., David won his second U.S. 10K trail national championship in three years, dominating the field in 42:43—more than 2 minutes ahead of runner-up Mario Mendoza. Megan was even more dominant, winning in 48:59, almost a 7-minute margin over the rest of the field.

Just last weekend, Megan set the men’s and women’s course record at the Toro Trail Half Marathon in Salinas, Calif. David ran the first half of the race, but got slightly off course and turned it into a training day. They’re doing a final pre-world championships tune-up at a 13-mile trail race up and down Mt. Diablo on Sept. 7 in Clayton, Calif.

“We race and run simply because we love it,” Megan says. “If we find that the natural love for running stops, we adjust to recreate that love. That’s why we run trails–because it’s hard to lose that love and perspective when you are in the middle of a redwood forest or looking down from a 14er. It’s nice to know that my training partner feels the same way and that we can have a partner-in-crime to appreciate the beauty of the little things.”

RELATED: Are Married Runners Better Lovers?

The U.S. teams heading over to Italy appear to be pretty strong and the Roches are a big part of it. The WMRC are held on uphill courses in even-numbered years; the men will run an 11.7K course, while the women will run 8.4K. Both races, along with the junior men’s race (8.4K) and junior women’s race (3.8K) will pass through one of the quarries of the “Bacino di Gioia,” from which marble was extracted for many historical masterpieces of the Italian art.

The men’s team is led by Colorado’s Joe Gray, who won the U.S. mountain championships in July and then had a solid year racing in Europe that included a runner-up finish in the historic Sierre Zinal Mountain Race in Switzerland. Also on the U.S. team are Patrick Smyth (Utah), Eric Blake (Connecticut), Zach Miller (Colorado) and Josh Eberly (Colorado).  

The women’s team also includes Colorado’s Allie McLaughlin, a former collegiate cross country All-American who’s had a breakout year on the trails, including a victory at the U.S. Mountain Running Championships; Idaho’s Morgan Arritola, an Olympic cross country skier who was third at the 2012 world mountain running championships; and Vermont’s Kasie Enman, the 2011 world mountain running champion who recently won the 52K Kima Trophy race in Italy.

Follow David (@@MountainRoche) and Megan (@MegRoche33) on Twitter!

RELATED: Gray, McLaughlin Win U.S. Mountain Running Championships

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