As the race developed, the rain stopped and two things became apparent. Warren was holding his lead and he was being chased by a woman. Lyn Lemaire was about 10 minutes behind and matching his pace. Emberson and Dunbar were falling back while Haller, feeling better now, was slowly gaining ground on them all. When Lemaire pedaled past Dunbar, Superman appeared startled, then asked a crew member, "Is she in the race?" Lemaire smugly turned and waved. She holds the American women's cycling record for 25 miles (1:00:6). At 5'6" and 148 pounds she is not a whole lot smaller than Warren, Dunbar and Haller, who are about 5'10" and 155 pounds.
Going down the length of the island, Dunbar trailed Warren by 15 minutes, then 30. He thought, "When is he going to stop?" Warren, the man who does sit-ups in saunas, was dreaming of cool rides through the evenings back home and thinking, "If I don't stop, nobody can catch me." His eyes watered from saltwater irritation, no big problem; Warren does not feel pain as most people do. He won't allow himself to. Yet his feet are so tender that he has tried running races wearing women's nylon ankle socks to prevent blisters. It didn't help. Warren claimed to be in only mediocre shape, "but sometimes it's more fun that way," which is to say the challenge is greater.
Warren's mother, Josephine, comes from an athletic family. His father, George, who died in 1966, was a senior vice-president of a savings and loan bank, and had earned a college scholarship by playing the bugle. Tom's brother, Bill, is seven years older and, like his father, not interested in sports. Consequently, Tom grew up tugging at the sleeves of older kids who did not want to be bothered; hence his nickname Tug. The frustrated youth amused himself with solitary games. He set a record by swimming three miles, a total of 500 laps, in the 11-meter family pool. Only he knew it was a record. When racing, he wants the lead so no one can see the pain on his face.
As the bicycle race went on, Warren decided that if he stopped because of fatigue, he would act as if he had a fiat tire. He knew Dunbar and Haller were back there hoping.
Warren's support crew symbolized his haphazard approach to the race. Dunbar and Haller each had four people and two vehicles with them, and Dunbar's crew included Dr. Kent Davenport, an orthopedic surgeon, who had put the former Seal on a special diet. He was using an $800 bike and someone always rode alongside, helping to pace him. Warren had asked Hank Grundman, the proprietor of two local Nautilus fitness centers, to find a vehicle and two support drivers. First Grundman wanted a promise from Warren that he would not keep his support crew on the course all night. "I just want to be a factor," Warren told him. His eventual, minimal crew consisted of Stu Malmgren, a 240-pound occasional jogger, and Sue Nakamatsu, a hair stylist. Warren did not have a backup bike. As the race progressed, his crew's mood ran from initial surprise, to enthusiasm, to awe.
Turning back toward Honolulu, Warren's path took him up Route 99, a tortuously steep grade that arrows through pineapple and sugar-cane fields, and directly into the wind. On this stretch Ian Emberson balanced almost motionless, making virtually no forward progress against the gale. Warren began the six-mile climb with a 30-minute lead over Lemaire and a bit more over Dunbar, but the pursuers took an alternate route that was more sheltered and made up great chunks of time. The woman cyclist closed to within five minutes. "Where's the girl?" Warren kept shouting. He started pumping harder.
Fighting their way far behind the increasingly concerned leader, Haller and Dunbar hoped that their chance would come in the marathon when Warren finally might collapse. Haller is a fine runner, and Dunbar, in the last year, had improved so much in the marathon that his best time now was two hours and 39 minutes. If he wanted to concentrate on the event and lose 25 pounds, he probably could become world class. In 1977, his final year at Honolulu's Chaminade University, Dunbar lived on campus, sleeping in a van for six months. Now that he had graduated, he was staying in a one-room cottage that rented for $160 a month—nothing much, but a spacious dwelling to someone accustomed to life in a 6' by 15' metal box on wheels. Dunbar planned to apply to law school and to get a job as soon as the contest was over. It had been a long year. During the previous week the normally placid youth had noticed that his pulse rate was up.
Leader Tom Warren pedaled into downtown Honolulu, hunched over his bicycle, legs churning so hard that his support car was haying trouble keeping pace. When he pulled up to the finish line, he discarded his bike, smeared Vaseline on his feet and shed his shirt to reveal a back turned scarlet by exertion. A television man stuck a microphone at him. "How do you feel?" he said loudly, like a man yelling down a cave.
"I don't feel like dancing," answered Warren.
His time in the bike ride was six hours and 19 minutes, the Oahu bicycle club would be embarrassed to know; a fine time for a fresh club member on the same course is just under six hours. Warren had all but buried his fagged rivals in the final 25 miles. The second-place cyclist, Lemaire, finished 11 minutes behind Warren after leg cramps stopped her eight times in the last 10 miles. In the same stretch, Dunbar halted and switched bikes twice because he was uncomfortable on the seat. His eyes were receding, his face drawn and wan, his complexion going fishy.