was holding together, and he was strong from those years of distance since the
last Olympics," says Clark. "He just needed races." They were hard
to find. "The meet directors were not really overjoyed to see him at the
Fresno and Modesto Relays early last year. They remembered him as a
At his own
expense, Macdonald traveled to Eugene, Ore. in June for the Prefontaine Classic
5,000, still without any qualifying mark for the Olympic Trials. "He knew
he wasn't fast enough for the 1,500," says Kardong. "The move up in
distance had the look of desperation, but he felt ready for it." The
trouble was getting into the race. Meet Director Wade Bell, the 1968 Olympic
half-miler and a crusty sort, wanted Duncan to stick to the 1,500. But a friend
on the infield managed to switch Macdonald's entry in the last half hour before
the gun. As the race was in progress, Bell looked up and said, "Is that
Macdonald in there?"
pretty well, too."
lead with Paul Geis of the Oregon Track Club through the last mile and
finishing second in 13:33.2, Macdonald cut his best time by nearly a minute,
whipping, among others, Don Kardong.
In the Trials run
on the same track, Macdonald laid a plan based on a miler's ability to sustain
a hard pace for 2� laps. He ran easily with the favorite, Dick Buerkle, until
they were well ahead of the field, clearly on their way to Montreal, and though
he didn't need to, Macdonald burned the last 2� laps anyway, forcing Buerkle to
a 13:26.6 win. Again Macdonald improved, to 13:29.6. "I couldn't believe
that he was so casual before it all," a friend recalls. "On the track
he seemed transformed from the mild, mischievous, funny guy I know. When it was
over and he had made the team, someone threw a flower lei over his shoulders,
and he was trotting around in a daze, totally unaware that the crowd was mad
for him. He saw me by the fence and came over and said very directly, 'You had
something to do with this. Thank you.' There was a shining gratification in his
eyes. But later, away from the track, he was right back to normal,
uncomfortable and silly under all the praise."
The praise has
kept coming because Macdonald, running with ever greater assurance, has kept
winning. Last December he won the Honolulu marathon from Boston champion Jack
Fultz and 1,600 others in a personal best 2:20:32—this after a week of
assisting in the delivery of babies. That meet was something of a reunion with
Marshall Clark, whom he had not seen since before the Trials, and the coach
made the most of it, planting a kiss on Macdonald's ear. "From all the old
team," he said, perpetuating the endemic Stanford wackiness. Then, in the
Sunkist Indoor meet's two-mile in Los Angeles three weeks ago, he easily
handled Craig Virgin, Geis and Shorter.
A child of the
islands, Macdonald has seldom considered leaving. To learn something of his
feeling for the Hawaiian environment, one simply need tag along with him and
Darby and their three white poi (mongrel) dogs as they hike a trail through a
section of the lush Koolau Range, the spine of Oahu. On this bright day the
northwesterly trade winds are driving chunky grey-bottom clouds over the
cliffs. The trail curls through moist ravines covered with ginger and
maidenhair fern. Thick-boled eucalypts give off a sinus-opening fragrance.
Duncan walks quietly for a while, finally pronouncing "This is Hawaii!"
over a place where guavas cover the trail with a pink, aromatic mush. Walking
over the goo sends up clouds of fruit flies.
Darby, too, is a
medical student, now some months ahead of Duncan because of his Olympic
dawdling. Though Darby had gone to Punahou School in Honolulu, they met in
medical school. "It was alphabetical," says Duncan, "but a fellow
named Ed Mandac was under some sort of cloud and wasn't permitted to sit
between Macdonald and Meyer. That's all it took."
mainland friends will try to make a case for his being secretive by saying he
concealed his marriage for a year and a half. "Not really fair," he
says. "I just don't write many letters." Because Darby kept her last
name, it was a year before most of their class knew. "It's not the sort of
thing you lead off a conversation with," she says, unconvincingly.
"Duncan doesn't, anyway."