to a snaky-trunked, palmlike plant. "Ieie," he says. "It's
sacred." Behind his hip he unsuccessfully conceals the book from which he
has gained this tidbit. A few yards beyond where a sign announces Pauoa Flats,
the trail suddenly plunges down a rocky precipice to a clearing among large,
shaggy paperbark trees. Macdonald, without recourse to his book, relates how
this area has been denuded twice in the last 150 years, once by sandalwood
hunters, then by foresters logging koa. He ends with the startling assertion
that "eucalyptus is technically a grass." Darby howls in disbelief. The
book is mute and they press on past a huge stand of bamboo, dark green vertical
shafts clacking in the wind. They discuss their plans for the coming months,
which include preceptorships in doctors' offices on the island of Hawaii, then
stints in a hospital emergency room. "Pulling oyster forks from people's
tongues," says Duncan.
In May, Macdonald
will be free to race one last summer before the demands of internship press.
Because the men ahead of him on last year's list of best 5,000 times are either
Europeans or New Zealanders who will be racing in Europe, his training is
directed toward a tour of the fast Scandinavian tracks. He admits to an
uncommon eagerness. "I love to travel anyway, and it's hard not to be
obsessed in a situation where it really looks like you can do something. There
is a trap there, the same as when you've been injured and you're trying to make
up for lost time. You overdo it and kill yourself."
Might a successful
season for Macdonald raise the temptation to postpone his internship and keep
running? "I'm afraid to put it off for fear I'll never get around to
it," he says. "Which would be relatively disastrous for the rest of my
life." Thus, by the summer of '78 he likely will be learning a medical
specialty "and running just to preserve my sanity."
The walk has
nearly completed a loop of some five miles. The final 100 yards of trail back
to the road crosses private land. A terraced hillside rises to a rather
sumptuous home, and down this slope races a snarling dog. Darby hustles the
Macdonald dogs away, while Duncan stands calmly to deflect this attack. The
watchdog shoots across a graveled walk and leaps, its head seeming to bounce
from Macdonald's leg as if it has struck wood. It retreats, and so does Duncan,
bowing. Walking away, it is clear that Macdonald has been bitten. He pulls up
his pant leg to reveal a bloody tear in his shin.
response, one thinks of other runners' reactions to such an event. Frank
Shorter—frightened of all dogs save his own—would have figured a way to put
anyone, even Darby, between himself and that animal. Prefontaine—who ran from
nothing—might have been bitten, but would have surely bitten back.
turns from examining his lacerated limb and considers. "I wasn't even
moving," he says finally in a puzzled tone. "I find that rather
As he proceeds
down the path, it seems that American three-mile tradition has passed to
capable, polite hands.