As the home of such popular races as the Eau Palm Beach Marathon and Run Fest, and the Susan G. Komen South Florida Race for the Cure, Palm Beach County is an outdoor obstacle course many tackle by foot or bicycle tire—and often in encouraging crowds.
Founded 15 years ago to promote running in South Florida, the Palm Beach Roadrunners consists of 200-350 members who participate in group runs and training. The open-membership club also organizes the local Run 4 the Pies, Classics by the Sea and Shamrock Run races.
Members range from recreational athletes to some of the county’s top runners, and “nobody looks down on anybody else—some people just [run] a little faster than others,” says Gary Walk, president of the nonprofit group.
One advantage of running in Palm Beach County is the year-round warm weather, says Walk, a Pittsburgh native (although he acknowledges running in the summer must be done early in the morning to avoid the heat). The scenery, he says, is another bonus: Walk runs along A1A in Juno Beach, close to the turquoise Atlantic Ocean. “I look out at the sunrise, and I just can’t believe I’m here,” he says.
The same benefits are true for cycling, says Bill Bone, a Palm Beach attorney and triathlete. “Here in Florida, it’s one of the most popular sports because of the weather and the flat terrain,” he says.
|The invitation-only Bill Bone Racing Team includes members like Mark Hassell (far left), the former lifeguard supervisor of Palm Beach for nearly 27 years, who has completed 14 Iron Man races. “Cycling has become one of the most popular family-style sports,” says founder Bill Bone (left), who has finished 25 sprint triathlons. “You can start when you’re in your twenties, but we’ve got people riding well into their sixties and seventies. You can ride your whole life.”|
In 1989, he founded the Bill Bone Racing Team, one of the state’s oldest cycling teams. Like the Roadrunners, Bone’s group consists of amateur and professional cyclists who ride and train together throughout South Florida. “There’s not a day you can drive down A1A and not see a Bill Bone jersey out there,” says Mark Hassell, the group’s treasurer.
Bone and Walk also speak of the support and camaraderie members of their respective clubs gain. A real estate lawyer, Walk credits running for helping him forge business and social connections with people of all backgrounds. “It’s a great equalizer,” he says. “It cuts across all spectrums and all levels of society. … When you lace those shoes up, everybody’s equal.”