By Dan Hinxman, Reno Gazette-Journal, June 1, 2012

Pete Parker is not very good at saying no.

“We both have that problem, actually,” Heidi Hurst said with a laugh.

So when these two philanthropic-minded running enthusiasts step up to the altar – and they are running enthusiasts in much the same way that Kobayashi enjoys hot dogs – their friends and family don’t have to worry about them saying anything but “I do” when prompted.

No, the only thing they’ll have to worry about is if Heidi grows impatient and rejoins the race before the minister can say, “I now pronounce you …

The Reno-Tahoe Odyssey, the eighth annual self-proclaimed “relay run adventure” that has taken on a life of its own, has been known for riotous camaraderie; charming, youthful freedoms; and sleeping on asphalt parking lots. This year, it adds a first: a wedding.

And your first response to that should be, “Well, of course, why not?”

“Pete and I went up to Virginia City a few weeks ago and visited with local authorities,” Odyssey founder and race director Eric Lerude said. “We walked the exchange site to make sure everyone would know what was going on. Everyone in Storey County knows and is excited.”

The Odyssey’s teams of 12 often come up with humorous, sometimes suggestive names. Pete and Heidi will be running for “The Wedding Party.”

The plan is simple. Pete will run the 30th leg into Virginia City on Saturday, where Heidi will be waiting along with family, friends and Scott Trevithick, who is a teammate and a Presbyterian pastor. Pete expects to arrive around 8 a.m. The ceremony will take place in the parking lot next to the Bucket of Blood Saloon. This is a second marriage for both, and Pete’s son, Caden, 14, and daughter, Tessa, 12, and Heidi’s son, Maxfield, 10, will be on hand.

They expect it to last about 15 minutes. At some point, Heidi will throw the “Gu-kay” – a bouquet with some flowers but mostly made of packets of carb-loading Gu (sounds like “Goo”). Then, Heidi will take off on leg 31 headed for Lousetown Road. And in true Odyssey fashion – it’s a competition, but for many, that’s a secondary pursuit at best – Lerude said he will deduct the time of the wedding from the team’s total.

Pete figures he’ll run alongside his new bride for a quarter-mile or so, but there will be a beer waiting for him back at the Bucket.

“I recommend that runners, after they run, drink beer,” Pete, 43, said with equal parts of humor and seriousness. “It’s carb loading and a sign of celebration.”

“Everybody that knows us knows that beer is like our middle name,” Heidi, 40, added with equal parts of real and feigned embarrassment.

Unlike most wedding planners, neither the groom nor the bride is nervous or at all worried about things not coming off without a hitch. As weddings go, this one has no bells or whistles, but it surely will have cowbells and whistlers and a groom standing at the altar with a beer in his hands. If it were a ’78 Mustang on the showroom floor, it would have no air conditioning, radio or power windows.

The wedding is actually the most stress-free part of their lives lately.

Both are heavily involved in the community, and both work in community-minded fields. Pete has served on 12 boards and presided over five. Heidi has been involved as well but has scaled back because her job as the director of the Northern Nevada Immunization Coalition is demanding more of her time.

Pete co-owns NPcatalyst, a company that connects donors and community leaders with charities.

Both are members of the Young Professionals Network, and both were 2008 recipients of the Reno Gazette-Journal Twenty Under 40 award, an annual honor that recognizes the area’s top young professionals.

“We’re the first Twenty Under 40 hookup,” Pete said.

Their activism is part of what drew them to the Odyssey in the first place. Pete has raced in every one. This is Heidi’s fourth Odyssey.

“Eric (Lerude) isn’t doing this for the money,” Pete said. “He’s doing it to help these charities. He really wants to celebrate community, which is what we love. We’re constantly championing the community, volunteerism, giving, philanthropy, whatever. Just do something. That’s what this event, to me, screams.”

The Parkers will honeymoon in Hawaii, but not for several months. There, they’ll take part in a 5-kilometer, 1-mile and half-marathon race.

“We don’t take vacations,” Pete said. “We take runcations.”

When the Odyssey ends Saturday, Pete and Heidi will gather with teammates and friends for the after-party at Idlewild Park. Then, there will be a reception at their home.

“At some point, we’ll go to sleep,” Heidi said.

“Maybe,” Pete added.

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