Double Happiness: From a UK Half-Marathon to a Romantic Dalian Proposal

SoC running 2
Sarah and her husband.

You never know where love’s going to find you — and where it might take you. Sarah (a native of Birmingham, England and the woman behind Diaries of a Yangxifu) had just finished the Half-Marathon in Birmingham, all sweaty and exhausted, when lo and behold, she discovered an incredibly handsome Chinese man right beside her. A man who would propose to her less than a year later in his hometown of Dalian, China. 

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I never felt quite the same after that year of teaching English in Nanjing in 2010. When I returned to the UK, I found I had a little thing for Chinese men, who reminded me of my year in China and shared my love of 饮茶 (drinking tea) and 烤鱼 (roasted fish). However after about two years, I had got back in to the swing of things back home and was really enjoying living in a multicultural city with a big Chinatown and occasional trips to KTV.

I had been training for the Half Marathon for over four months, including a three-week holiday in China where I managed to sneak in a few runs on the banks of the Pearl River in Guangzhou and along Victoria Harbour in HK. I was feeling incredibly proud of myself when I had completed the 13.1 mile run and felt on top of the world as I walked from the finish line to my home 10 minutes away. Still, I was a bit achey and was trying to decide whether to take a little rest or just get home and have a nice shower. I saw a free bit of wall in the square and decided to take a little rest.

SoC running 1

I soon noticed the handsome Chinese man sitting on the wall next to me and was deciding how to make conversation, a habit of mine since returning from China. Then he turned to me and congratulated me on finishing the run. (Let’s hope it was the medal round my neck rather than the bright red face and disgusting hair that gave me away!)

We got to chatting for a while, exchanged snacks (they put some strange things in race finish bags) and chatted about sport. I had not met such a sporty Chinese person before, or one with freckles. Some time into the conversation I asked whether he was Chinese, and he replied, “Yes, but don’t be scared.” (I’m not sure what kind of experience he’d had of British people!). I answered (in Chinese) that I wasn’t afraid and actually I could speak a little Chinese myself, much to his surprise!


We spent the rest of that day together, and I think it was the best day of my life. I had not only met not only the most handsome man I’ve ever known. I also met the man who 10 months later proposed to me “movie-style” at the top of Dalian’s sightseeing tower observation deck, right in his hometown where we had moved a couple of months before. I feel so lucky to have met a man with such integrity and intelligence, someone who always strives to be better — just like me.

That day, sitting on a wall in the Birmingham city centre, marks the start of my greatest adventure: of marriage, of a new family, of living a taste of real Chinese life.


Sarah is currently studying Mandarin Chinese in Guilin, China, where she lives with her husband, and documents the challenges and the joys of her adventure at Diaries of a Yangxifu.


Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts and love stories! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.


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28 Replies to “Double Happiness: From a UK Half-Marathon to a Romantic Dalian Proposal”


    I can fully understand why Jocelyn wanted to run from her native Ohio or for that matter the USA. If this is representative of the US I will run for my dear life too…and for all the British-Chinese couples good luck getting the resident visa in the UK. Taking a lot of time…so leaving and going to Canada.

    1. I read an article about this lawsuit yesterday and I’m still not sure what to think. I don’t believe it is representative of feelings in the US, necessarily. Being mixed race can be a challenge though, shouldn’t we admit that? My son is and I do realize he may face some hardships because of it. But he will also have certain benefits, such as knowing two countries and two languages.

      I guess I can understand being upset if I paid for a specific donor and was given something else due to someone’s error. If my husband and I wanted a mixed white-Chinese baby (representative of who we are as a couple) but we were accidentally given the sperm of a white or black donor, I would, quite frankly, be angry.

  2. A wonderful story. You have to ask yourself then what would have happened if she had decided to go straight home to take a nice shower! THis is life and at every turn a new door opens 🙂

    This reminds me to write soonish myself about how I met my wife…

    1. Yeah, it is pretty amazing about how the small decisions we make can change our lives forever.

      Timo, I would love to read about how you met your wife — look forward to your post on that!

  3. Dalian !! We are very close from Dalian In winter,there is a Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin You can go to Harbin
    Have you been to Qingdao OR Yantai?

    1. Hi Jack,
      I haven’t been to either Harbin, Qingdao or Yantai yet but they are all on my list for the future. We are currently based in south China. Such a big country, so little time!

  4. This is a great story Sarah and you two really are a lovely couple! Good to know that you are doing so well— that year in Nanjing really was something special! I wish you all the best for your future xx

    1. Hi Heide, I think you’re the first person I know to have read this and to have seen my blog! :-/
      Thanks for you comment 🙂 I hope you’re well xx

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