GREEN COVE SPRINGS - Orange Park road racer David Bonnette was chided and nicknamed the “Bod” as a chiseled, muscular running stalwart that ran hard paces and had strong finishes to age group …
GREEN COVE SPRINGS - Orange Park road racer David Bonnette was chided and nicknamed the “Bod” as a chiseled, muscular running stalwart that ran hard paces and had strong finishes to age group titles just five years ago on the Jacksonville road running scene.
“I don’t know about the running stalwart thing unless you say self-proclaimed, but the last three years has been quite the emotional ride,” said Bonnette, now 54, and given an all-clear in October 2020. “After today’s run, I walked off by myself from the finish line and just thanked God for letting me do this. There a lot of people around me, especially my beautiful wife Amy, who got me here. That cancer word is a scary thing, but here I am today.”
The here, for Bonnette, was the finish line of the Hellcat 50K trail run at the Military Museum of North Florida on Saturday.
“I ran this once before in 2017 right before the cancer and wanted to come back after what has happened to me and take an emotional step,” said Bonnette. “I think I ran about 41 minutes faster than the last time and finished in about four hours, 21 minutes. It was a good moment.”
Bonnette’s last three years started with a diagnosis of prostrate cancer; (“get the exam, it’s 10 seconds of uncomfortable that can save your life”), that put his athleticism to the test with 25 rounds of radiation therapy in a five week span; five rounds per week, putting his physical conditioning to that point to one of his more grueling tests.
“Amy and I went to the Key West Marathon after one session and I could barely keep up with her,” said Bonnette. “She’s a pretty good runner though, but I had nothing at that race. It took me about six weeks after that January race to feel good again.”
Part of Bonnette’s post-race thoughts evolved to rethinking running another 50K race; approximately 30 miles.
“The other thing that came from my walk away at the finish is that running 30 miles sucked; that was my last one,” said Bonnette, who has run marathons in Philadelphia and Washington D.C. since his diagnosis improved.
“It has been a tough struggle with the radiation, but not as bad as chemotherapy,” said Bonnette. “It took a good year and a half to get back to feeling like I could run like I did before the diagnosis.”
For Amy Guthrie-Bonnette, the news of the cancer came just a month after the two were married after a meeting at a local road race.
“We went to the same gym a bunch of times, but it was at a road race that something connected and we started talking then got married,” said Amy Bonnette, 48. “We did a lot of praying.”
One point of inspiration came from a book Bonnette read; “Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds” by former U.S. Navy Seal David Goggins.
“He wrote about how your mind is much stronger than anything your body thinks it can’t do,” said Bonnette. “He writes that when your body says it’s done, your mind has about 60 percent more it can give. You can either give up or keep pushing.”
For Amy Bonnette, watching her tough-guy husband go through the cancer ordeal was as much an ordeal for her as was for him.
“People who love people dealing with cancer sometimes have as much of an emotional ride as the loved one,” said Amy Bonnette. “He gets his PSA test every six months and when he comes home and tells me he scored a zero, we pray and give thanks.”
For the Bonnettes, waking up each morning is the blessing and the high point of the ordeal.
“We wake up so happy and we have great friends who got us through this,” said Amy Bonnette, who finished the Hellcat 10K in 53:12 to take second in her age group. “It took about a month or six weeks to get our life in order to attack the cancer and we were in a fog for most of that it was such a shock. We both agreed to fight this thing together.”
Amy Bonnette noted that her parents, Sara and Jon Guthrie, plus two girlfriends, kept her in their phone calls to keep her positive.
“I was injured last year for about six months and we dealt with that,” said Amy Bonnette. “I learned from getting through my six months that he is quite smart about this running stuff. I love running with him and having him coach me.”
For the Hellcat 50K, winning time was Flint Brady, 47, of Crescent City, who ran down early leader Joel Rich, 51, of Gainesville, to win in 3:51.06 to Rich’s 3:51.42. Randy Arend, also an Orange Park masters runner, was third in 4:14.03 with Bonnette fourth at 4:21.37.
First female was Amy Colombo, 38, of Boynton Beach, in 4:57.23 with runner Nadine White-Boyd, 53, of Lake Worth, who strode through at 5:01.11. Kate Buckley, 34, of St. Simons Island, was third in 5:26.02.
There were 82 runners for the 50K.
In the adjoining 30K, Noel Reforma, 41, won in 2:19.25 ahead of Christopher Howard, 34, in 2:28.04.
Boyce Royal, 40, came in at third in 2:28.04 just head of Fleming Island’s Dan Adams, who ran with Bonnette in the early laps, in 2:32.57.
Top three females for the 30K were Theresa Wamhoff, 52, in 2:33.54; Sara Pleasants, 42, in 2:39.16 and Cathleen Smith, 42, in 2:58.35.
In the 10K, top three overall were Ben Arnold, 18, of Jacksonville,in 38:43; Delroy Boothe, 48, of Jacksonville, in 39:40 and Matthew Stevens, 28, of Jacksonville, in 40:34.
For the females, top three were Kelly Brasol, 39, in 44:21; Katie Lewis, 29, in 45:11 and Heather Hentze, 41, in 48:38.
There were 220 runners in the 10K, 64 in the 30K.