Residents run in Chicago Marathon

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 21, 2005

DEMOPOLIS – The only competitor was time as Demopolis residents Woody Dinning Jr. and Ronnie Jennings ran the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon October 9, 2005.

“We don’t compete against each other. If anything we encourage each other to finish,” Dinning said. “We just compete against the clock really.”

“I don’t know why we do it really, but this is the fifth one we’ve ran together,” Jennings, who began running in 1995, said. “We just do it. Fitness and health is definitely on the list.”

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In 1977, when Dinning first began to run, the now 51-year old said he never imagined himself in a marathon.

“It was my first year in law school and it was not enough exercise and too many soft drinks. So I just started running,” Dinning said. “Marathons haven’t even crossed my mind. I wasn’t even sure whether I’d be alive 28 years later much less running.”

But in 1999 when Dinning and Jennings, 45, began running together, Jennings suggested a marathon to which Dinning said sure.

Since that day, Jennings said the marathon pair has run more than 4,000 miles and five marathons together.

“Our goal is to run one marathon a year,” Jennings said.

The duo has traveled to expeditions in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Chicago, twice.

They agree Chicago is the best place to run a marathon because it’s a beautiful, flat city with a great crowd.

“The people are so supportive and the spectators cheer the entire way,” Dinning said. “And their cheering takes your mind off the pain.”

The two runners begin training for the 26.2-mile jogs about six months in advance, Jennings said.

“We run 16-20 miles a day, four days a week,” he said. “Saturdays we do a long run and by about two weeks before the marathon, we are up to a 20 mile run.”

Balancing training, families and careers would be a difficult task for most people, but Jennings and Dinning have created a way to kill two birds with one stone.

“We usually pick a place we haven’t been before and it’s got to be a good place to go,” Dinning said about marathon locations.

“Our wives, friends and children travel with us a lot of the time so we make it a week-long vacation,” Jennings said. “It’s a way to make up for the times we missed spending with them when we were training.”

The pair plans to run another marathon next fall and welcomes new team members.

“Yea, come on and join us,” Dinning said. “Misery loves company.”

But the expeditions can’t be that bad because the duo said they will continue to run until the task is impossible.

“I’ll run forever. I need the exercise,” Dinning said.

“Till death do us part,” Jennings added.