John Tolerton can do the route in his sleep.
Every Wednesday and Saturday at 7 a.m., the 42-year-old meets at Palmetto Running Company before embarking on a 12.5-mile run with his team. They start by heading toward Simmonsville Road. Then they turn right onto Bluffton Parkway before hooking onto Buckwalter. A loop back onto Highway 278 would follow.
Usually it is a large group of running enthusiasts that joins that Ohio native. Sometimes, though, it's just him and his good friend, Ben Vaught.
"Running is like that, where you go on these three-hour training runs and you exercise beyond exhaustion," Vaught said, "you just open up and talk about a lot of things. You really get to know each other."
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That bond became that much more special when the two, joined by teammate Seth Tucker, finished in the top 10 for Palmetto Running Company last weekend at the Rock 'n' Roll Savannah Marathon, which attracted 3,000 runners in all.
"It was incredible, amazing," Tolerton said. "It was unimaginable. I was hoping for the top 20 (and then) for me to place in the top three was just like, 'Are you kidding me?' "
Tolerton, who began extensive training for the run alongside Vaught in July, led the way with a third-place finish thanks to a 2:48:52 time. He and Vaught -- who finished eighth at 2:53:32 -- had trained to run a 2:50.
The 26-year-old Tucker split his teammates with a time of 2:52:41 and a sixth-place finish.
"Part of our success is partially brought on by such a good team and helping each other train," Tucker said. "Palmetto Running Company has put together this group. That helps."
They weren't the only ones to finish with some success, however. Beaufort's David Jirousek (3:00:47) finished 14th, while Mark White (3:10:50) and Michael Christensen (3:15:46) of Hilton Head Island finished 53rd and 70th, respectively.
But it was the trio from Palmetto Running Company that headlined the list. The team -- sponsored by store owner Rob Fyfe -- watched as Tolerton and Tucker led the pack for most of the way before Jeff Mescal of Indiana pulled away for the win.
Tolerton led through 17 miles and at one point had a five-minute lead on his competitors. And he made sure to thank Vaught for much of that.
"It was a really big deal because just to meet him, he was so close enough to me in how we could train together just so," he said. " ... I've never had anything like that training with somebody."
Vaught, a 31-year-old who graduated from Hilton Head Island High School, said he was happy to see his good friend and teammate finish near the top. There's only one way, though, that it could have been even better.
"I wanted to finish right beside each other," he said, "but I wasn't fast."