{Relationships} These FOFs found a secret spark to long-time marriages

Marriage comes with its own challenges–especially if you’ve been married for over three decades like Cathy Skott and her husband, Myron, and Donna Guthrie and her husband, Mike. Yet, these two FOFs embarked on athletic challenges with their hubbys and both claim it was a secret spark–reviving and adding a whole new dimension to their marriages.

FOF Donna Guthrie and her husband, Mike,
are hiking all the National Parks

Donna, an FOF from Colorado Springs, CO and her husband, Mike, will hike all the National Parks. They’ve completed 33 out of 58 and hope to complete the remaining 26 parks by 2016, when they turn 70 and the National Park Service turns 100.

How did you decide to do this?
We began in 2009. Mike and I have been married 39 years. Over our 36th anniversary dinner we were talking about our bucket lists. After a bottle of wine or two, we decided instead of traveling overseas, it would be fun to hike in all the National Parks. At the time we didn’t even know how many parks there were.

How many parks are there?
58! We started later that month at Rocky Mountain National Park and from there we just took off. Now we’re up to 33.

Is visiting all the National Parks expensive?
It may sound expensive, but we save money on park entrance fees. For seniors, a lifetime national parks pass is only $10. We also try to stay at the park lodges when possible.

Who are the Gehrkes?
We found out about the Gehrkes after we started this project. They were a couple from Nebraska who did the same challenge starting in 1921 when there were just 28 National Parks. They got to 27 in seventeen years!

What was your favorite park?
Crater Lake in Oregon. The water is so blue and we visited on a beautiful, fall day. Sometimes our experience has to do with the weather, sometimes it has to do with the park ranger and the talk he gives, sometimes it’s all about the hike. We also liked the Florida parks in the Everglades and Yosemite lived up to all its hype.

What was the most challenging hike?
A park in Alaska. We were flown in on a small airplane that landed on top of a volcano. I think of myself as pretty gutsy, but, that was pretty challenging..

How has this brought you and Mike closer?
I think any big project like this adds some sort of spark, I don’t know if that’s the right word but it’s fun having a big goal and planning for it. I like the idea of couples who have been married a long time having a big project. It doesn’t have to be this–it can be seeing all the baseball stadiums in the country or going to six music festivals in five states. It adds a different dimension to our marriage.

You can learn more about Donna and Mike’s project Hike All the National Parks and follow their projects, here.

FOF Cathy Skott and her husband, Myron, bike the East Coast

Cathy, a retired teacher from Johns Creek, GA and her husband Myron are biking the East Coast Greenway from Miami to Maine (2,300 miles) this summer. Here, Cathy takes a break from cycling to chat with FOF.

How did you decide to do this?
In 2004 my husband rode the first ever navigational tour of the East Coast Greenway for charity. He loved it. He saw something in a newsletter about this tour through the Cabot Creamery Cooperative. We got in touch with them, liked the company and made the decision to ride.

What is the Cabot Creamery Cooperative?
It’s a farmer’s co-op. This summer they are setting up 8 festivals along the East Coast. We ride the path between the festivals and stop at each along the way. We have a passion for this. We love riding and meeting people in different communities.

How long is the tour?
We started on May 9 in Miami and the final festival is in Portland, Maine on July 7. Of the 59 days, we ride about 51 days averaging about 50-60 miles per day.

How has the weather been?
Really good. One day we stopped and put our raincoats on.

How did you start biking?
My husband and I bought our first bicycles when we were in our 20s. We’d ride around our neighborhood doing errands. In our 40s, my husband and I decided we never wanted to get out of shape. My goal was to ride around 200 miles per month, about 50 miles per week. That was hard when i was teaching. But, when I retired in 2008, we got more serious.

How has this brought you and Myron closer?
Myron and I have been married for 40 years. Many of our friends say you and Myron are so lucky that you have something you enjoy doing together. It’s true–it’s just a thrill and it does build our relationship. We depend on each other, we know what each other’s strengths are.

You can learn more about Cathy and Myron’s ride and follow their progress, here.