SI Vault
Kenny Moore
October 08, 1979
During a 20-day race covering 500 kilometers—or 2� laps around the island of Oahu—the entrants experienced exhaustion, ecstasy and the execrable
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October 08, 1979

Hawaii Five Double O

During a 20-day race covering 500 kilometers—or 2� laps around the island of Oahu—the entrants experienced exhaustion, ecstasy and the execrable

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Henderson's temperament is kindly among friends, but he exhibits a certain perverse pleasure in keeping his listeners, particularly people he doesn't know well, off balance, as when he spoke the day before the race of the new sport he had invented: Disorienteering. "If you follow the trail, you're disqualified; if you go where anyone else goes, you're disqualified, as you are if you find one of the checkpoints on purpose. The only way to win is to get completely, uncaringly lost."

Duly consternated at such talk was Harvey Shultz, 44, of Clawson, Mich. A grizzled machinist with the rock-hard torso of a boxer, Shultz had run for less than two years. He, and 27 others, belonged to the "adventure" category of entrants who were entitled, when intrigued by a sugar mill or a flea market, to turn off their digital timers while they explored and to restart them when they pressed on, thus keeping their own unique system of elapsed time. The rest of us were in the competitive division, which meant that every second we were on the road was added to our accumulated time.

After seven miles of our first day's run, we stopped to gulp a cool drink from the hose of the Church of Saints Peter and Paul overlooking tranquil Waimea Bay. The pink church tower shaded us, and from within—it being Sunday—we heard the sweet strains of hymns. For Shultz, this temptation was irresistible. After drinking, he knocked on the church door and asked admission.

"But you need a shirt," whispered the usher, staring at Shultz' attire, which consisted solely of soaked yellow shorts with red hibiscus flowers on them.

"Well, I'm running, man," he said. "My things are miles from here."

Charity prevailed, and Shultz was given a shirt. At least it used to be a shirt. Now its buttons were gone, along with its sleeves. It was a little cape, actually, but it served, and Shultz sat through the remainder of the mass beatifically sweating. When he came out, the usher insisted he take the sodden thing with him.

By this time the rest of us had run through the sleepy little town of Haleiwa and on past steamy sugarcane fields, the heat rising from the road, to our first day's finish at Mokuleia Beach Park. After our tents had been erected on a lawn covered with the tiny shards of ironwood cones, Scaff looked out over the eastern bay, breathing in the view of the green land we had crossed. "It's like the outer islands, isn't it?" he said, pointing to the minute pink tower of Shultz' church, nearly lost in the distance.

"Harvey has been on insulin since he was five," Schaffer said suddenly. "He's lived much longer than almost any other juvenile diabetic." Shaffer confessed admiration for the man's brute strength. "If he seems aggressive or eccentric, I believe it's because he's living every day as if it were his last."

We were splendidly cared for. Gil and Tippy Dias, a middle-aged couple, were children of the sea, she from Tonga, he from Hawaii. They saw to our feeding. Every evening Gil gathered a few good swimmers and tugged 100 feet of delicate gill net into position outside the surf or reef. At dawn he brought in the fish, which later would be broiled and served with our dinner.

A dozen of us were subjects in a medical study being conducted by Dr. Rudy Dressendorfer of the University of California at Davis and Charles Wade of Tripler Army Hospital. Blood and urine would be taken at dawn on eight selected mornings to determine from our enzyme and hormone responses whether these 130 miles per week of hot-weather running were strengthening us or eating us away. Assisting Dressendorfer and Wade was University of Hawaii biology student and cross-country runner Becky Russell—blonde and tan—whom Henderson immediately dubbed the Race Bunny. It was a role she accepted, she said archly, "only to prove that an ardent feminist can have a sense of humor." Indeed she had one, with a bit of an edge to it. "Do you mean," she said with a pout as we milled around before the start, "that this is the last day I get any of you guys fresh?"

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