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Demopolis men run to more than a finish line

DEMOPOLIS &045; Four Demopolis-based friends traveled to Seaside, Fla. Sunday, March 2 to hit the pavement and add 13.1 miles to an athletic journey that has brought them better health, stronger bonds and the occasional free beer.

Seaside, a small community approximately 30 minutes outside of Panama City, annually hosts the Seaside Half-Marathon to benefit the Seaside School. Raymond Boone, a pharmacist at Food World in Demopolis, was the first of the group to discover the run and has participated in it since 2003. Last year was the first time he made the four-and-a-half-hour drive from Demopolis with his longtime friend, Andrew Cargile, an employee at Rock-Tenn papermill. For this year’s run the pair was joined by workout partners Tripp Wynne and Mel Griffin, two other Rock-Tenn workers. Together, they made up only four of the field of 1,776 runners.

Once they crossed the finish line at Seaside, they found not only the satisfaction of finishing, but also a little something extra, free beer.

While their finishing positions may not be where the men would like them, placement seems secondary to this group, which uses events such as this one to stay in shape during the off-season of its preferred activity, the triathlon. Triathlons are rigorous events that require participants to compete in running, swimming and biking competitions.

Much like Seaside, Boone was the first of the group to participate in the triathlon competitions.

Cargile and Boone have known one another since high school and worked out together sporadically during their adult years before they began competing in the triathlons together. According to Cargile, he began running and biking in 2000 and quickly became hooked.

Cargile and Boone have worked out and competed together since, recently adding Wynne and Griffin to their routines. Aside from their regular workouts and events, the group participates in a 50-mile bike ride nearly every Summer Sunday morning as part of its conditioning regimen.

While the health benefits of such events are obvious, Boone is less inclined to extol their virtues in that regard.

In addition to the physical and mental benefits the group is reaping from their activities, they’ve unwittingly reaped other rewards along the way.

Their time together has forged a closeness they likely would not have discovered otherwise.

One of those similarities, the drive to compete, will have the group crossing finishing lines at numerous events in the coming months, including a series of runs in Tuscaloosa and this weekend’s Midnight 5K Run at the Sports-Plex presented by the Bryan Whitfield Memorial Hospital Relay for Life team.