SI Vault
Where It's Really At
Barry McDermott
January 29, 1979
The sunbathers were unclothed and uncaring, but Chadwick jogged on, seemingly laid back and centered, because if he could finish a race he could discover...
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January 29, 1979

Where It's Really At

The sunbathers were unclothed and uncaring, but Chadwick jogged on, seemingly laid back and centered, because if he could finish a race he could discover...

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Those who did not know Chadwick might have thought it bizarre that he would be running up a long hill near San Francisco, pretending he was being pulled by a locomotive. But those who knew Chadwick would understand. After all, only yesterday he had been atop a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, jogging in front of an unclothed audience.

Running seemed to provide Chadwick with what he had wanted for so many years—membership. He grew up in the late 1950s and early '60s in Cincinnati, often described as "a great place to raise children." At 14, Chadwick was too young to be a beatnik, and then, at 23, he was too old to be a hippie. He was in an odd time in an odd place, a condition he feared eventually would be his epitaph.

In his early 20s, Chadwick could not afford such upper-class luxuries as "dropping out," because he always had to make his car payments. So he dressed down in the style of the revolution's auxiliary, wearing his oldest clothes whenever he went to a rock concert and ripping off the Establishment by not putting enough postage on his letters.

Chadwick had long engaged in an obsessive hunt for that elusive quality called It—the latest fad, style or spiritual amusement park so frequently alluded to on automobile bumper stickers. He would think that he had found It, but then he would discover that while he was close, perhaps just a few weeks behind, It had moved on and left no forwarding address. His friends, meanwhile, had seemed quite able to keep abreast of such things. But now, at last, jogging was Chadwick's mellow trip.

Chadwick discovered the human potential movement after becoming disenchanted with what he called the "save them" groups: the ACLU, Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and others. Once he had staged a fund-raiser cocktail party for a cadre of local Black Panthers, but someone had walked off with most of his silverware and his entire collection of Kennedy half dollars. But now, as a result of his assertiveness training, Chadwick would be right up front. He was also into mind control, est, bioenergetics, primal scream therapy, consciousness raising and various forms of yoga and biorhythms, to say nothing of astrology, tarot cards and numerology.

Naturally, Chadwick was delighted when he heard the news that Esalen, the headquarters of the whole spiritual head trip for the Western world, was offering an Inner Jogging course at its Big Sur facility located below Monterey, Calif. Sports long had been one of Chadwick's priorities. In fact, his wife had left him because of a World Series double play. It came in Game 2 in 1976 when Cincinnati's Dave Concepcion snared a liner and turned it into a twin killing. The first replay was on the TV when Chadwick's wife came into the room. They were having troubles anyway, ever since she had discovered psycho-karate and had become more demanding of her own space. She said, "We have to discuss where we're at," but Chadwick did not hear her, because he was engrossed in Concepcion's catch. During the World Series they show about seven or eight replays from every possible camera angle, and by the last one his wife had walked out of the room and out of the house. Chadwick never saw her again.

Chadwick loved instant replays. At times he wished he could video-record his life and play it back after editing out the bad parts. His trouble was that he was a practice player. He had trouble completing anything. That was even his trouble in jogging. Filled with trepidation, he had entered several races, but had never completed one. Something always happened: a stitch, a wrong turn, an injury. Once a shoelace came untied; he had stooped to tie it and an overweight woman plowed into him and almost broke his leg.

Still Chadwick was a competent runner, save for his fear of racing. It was possible that he was in the sport for all the wrong reasons. For him, running provided cocktail-party conversation, the way tennis elbow and low blood sugar once had. And it also appealed to an almost manic desire he had. He liked passing runners during his workouts, holding his breath as he went by to make them think he was running at an effortless pace. He liked it even more if his victims were young and had long hair. Chadwick used to wear his hair long, but since it had thinned, he maintained that the shorter styles were in vogue. And whenever someone passed him during a run, Chadwick would stop, as if he had just finished his planned distance, even if he were in the middle of a forest.

Still, the thing that really troubled Chadwick was his inability to race well. And that was why he was hurrying through the San Francisco airport this Friday morning, rushing to catch his plane for the weekend at Esalen, because he believed that if he could just learn to complete a race, somehow he might be able to complete his life.

The Esalen seminar would be conducted by Mike Spino, a New Jersey native who grew up looking across the Hudson River at what could be seen of New York City. After attending Syracuse University, where he had been on the track team, Spino had gravitated to the West Coast. He had been teaching school in San Francisco and edging cautiously into the whirlpool of adult life when he met Michael Murphy, the founder of Esalen. Murphy was interested in physical as well as spiritual fitness. After training runs, the pair talked about Eastern religion, meditation and about running evolving into a type of yoga—"a higher form of sport," as Murphy called it. He urged Spino to develop a program that would incorporate the mystical aspects of Esalen. Spino did just that, and in 1974 he was named sports director of the Esalen Sports Center.

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