"I'm not mad," the mystery man's wife wrote to Barbara Tatge, who now says, "I won't be kissing random strangers"

By Wade Rouse
Updated May 04, 2015 11:30 AM
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Credit: Paige Tatge/AP

Now this is a story with legs – and lips.

Barbara Tatge was about to run in her first Boston Marathon in April when she learned of a local custom: The women of Wellesley, Massachusetts, a town along the course, get kissed during the race.

Tatge’s daughter, Paige, a student at Arizona State, dared her to turn tradition on its head and instead kiss a handsome Wellesley man along the route.

Tatge followed through on her promise, but there was one problem: The man she smooched was married.

“Before I could even think about what I was doing, my feet were making my way towards this tall, good-looking man,” Tatge told TODAY.com. “He was a great sport. There was no discussion about whether it would be a kiss on the lips or the cheek. It just happened to be a kiss on the lips.”

Tatge’s friend took a photo of the kiss on a cell phone (it took three takes to perfect it), and the runner – who finished in 4 hours and 14 minutes – said the kiss put “wings on my heels for the remainder of the race.”

Continued Tatge, who is from Memphis, Tennessee: “I turned to go back into the race and he yells out, ‘Call me!’ I realize he could’ve just been caught up in the moment, but I felt like I wanted to kick myself for not getting his number. I thought, ‘What if this is one of those happenstance things and I didn’t seize an opportunity that could be great?’ ”

So Tatge’s daughter did it for her, sending the photo of the kiss to the Wellesley Townsman in hopes of finding the stranger as a birthday gift for her mom, who turned 55 on Friday.

Turns out the mystery man’s wife – who was also running the marathon for the first time – responded with a letter to Tatge via the Wellesley Townsman, who confirmed the veracity of her claims by requesting photos of the man’s outfit from the original photo.

“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. “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!”

Continued the wife, who asked that she and her husband remain anonymous: “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,” she told WickedLocal.com. “I greatly admire your spunk and courage and wish you many happy races in the future. Congratulations on your Boston finish!”

As for Tatge, a busy, traveling executive who has been single since getting divorced seven years ago, she said she has been “touched by the outpouring of support of strangers that wanted a fairy-tale ending.”

“I love to seize adventures to the fullest extent and the Boston Marathon was no exception,” said Tatge, who told Boston’s WCBV5 that she took up running after turning 50 and surviving a rare form of cancer. “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.”

But Tatge admits she will have a different race strategy: “I won’t be kissing random strangers along the route.”

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