Barbara Tatge was running in her first ever Boston Marathon when she followed through on her daughter’s dare to kiss a random man as she passed through Wellesley. She did it, and then Paige Tatge began a quest to find the man in the photo when she reached out to the Townsman last week.
The mystery man’s wife was running the race for the first time as well, and in a letter to Tatge via the Townsman said that the attention the story has gotten—picked up by several national media outlets—has been fun. She and her husband would like to remain anonymous, though.
The Townsman confirmed the veracity of her claims by requesting photos of the man’s outfit from the original photo of the kiss.
“I accepted my daughter’s good-hearted dare of reversing the Wellesley tradition,” Tatge said, referring to the women of Wellesley College who dole out kisses to passing runners. “And a good natured man accepted my request for a photo. Moving forward I will revert to only kissing single men…”
A photo of the kiss Tatge sent to Paige as proof that she completed the dare went viral following its publication in the Townsman, and Tatge has been fielding requests from morning talk shows and was summoned to a TV station in her hometown of Memphis for an interview.
“I’ve been surprised and overwhelmed with all the attention this simple story has gotten and would like it all to go away quietly, I really would,” Tatge told the Townsman Sunday. “In all sincerity, I apologize if the media firestorm has caused him any discomfort.”
In her letter to Tatge, the mystery kisser’s wife said that she learned of the kiss after finishing the race on April 20 and found it funny. The man’s friend snapped a photo for Tatge, which she sent to Paige as proof that she followed through on the dare.
“We all thought this story was hilarious because it is just like my husband to do that,” the man’s wife said in her letter. “It was one of many memorable stories from a great weekend in Boston.”
The mystery man and his wife have been married for 20 years and have two kids of their own, including a daughter who thought the story was funny and a son who–after a little while–also came around to appreciate the story.
Though there will be no happily-ever-after ending, Tatge said the outpouring of support from strangers has made her feel good. “I am touched by the outpouring of support of strangers that wanted a fairytale ending,” she said, but now she’s ready for the attention to go away.
“When this story aired on the news we were pretty surprised,” the mystery man’s wife wrote. “For me, I’m not mad. Believe me, our friends have gotten a lot of mileage out of this story and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching them give my husband grief!”
Tatge said initially that she regretted not getting the man’s number after running further along the course and processing the man’s in-the-moment plea for her to call him, which ultimately set off the search to find him.
“While this may not be the ending that you had hoped for, that spontaneous, silly moment in Wellesley captured the fun, energy and spirit of the Boston Marathon,” the man’s wife said in her letter to Tatge. “I greatly admire your spunk and courage and wish you many happy races in the future. Congratulations on your Boston finish!”
Tatge, who took up running after turning 50 and surviving a rare form of cancer, said she’s not done with running after finishing the Boston Marathon.
“I love to seize adventures to the fullest extent and Boston was no exception, and the Boston Marathon was no exception,” Tatge said. “I know I’ll be back to Boston. Right now my plan is to try to qualify for 2017. I want to come back to Boston most definitely.”
If she does run Boston again, Tatge said she would change her approach to the race slightly: “I won’t be kissing random strangers along the route,” she said. “I suspect he will stand further back in the crowd of spectators at future races.”
I reported both parts of this story first for the Townsman, with the second part running exclusively in the Townsman after the mystery man’s wife e-mailed a letter addressed to Tatge. The story ran later with attribution in several other worldwide media outlets and became a trending topic on Facebook.