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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We got to the city the next day, following a circuitous route. By virtue of the Scaffs' prodigious pull, we were cleared to drive our vans through the West Loch of Pearl Harbor, a secure naval area where strange buildings crouch behind hedges of barbed wire. Photography was forbidden, because here are entombed the nuclear weapons for the military in the Pacific. We were to be picked up by a catamaran for a tour of the harbor.

We passed a scattered day and a half in Waikiki. When we gathered for dinner, the talk was all of the road, of each other. A movement was growing to move the finish, now only a lap away, from the grating surround of Waikiki to somewhere more private. "Maybe we shouldn't finish at all," said Henderson. "Maybe we should just go our separate ways and rejoin on other islands. Ireland, say, or New Caledonia."

We began again with 20.5 miles around Makapuu Point, stopping at Bellows Beach Park, an Air Force facility which had a sign on the rest room saying, DRY PAINT. On a beach of powdered-sugar sand, McCormack said, "I wish this thing were starting over. A few sore muscles, some hard uphill pulls, no price at all for such an experience."

Behind us. duels were fought, the fiercest between George Conlan, 48, an executive in a juice-dispenser firm, and Bill Zappas, 58, for the over-40 title. Conlan, from Belvedere, Calif., on San Francisco Bay, had arrived admirably lean and fit from training 100 miles a week. Zappas. who, runs a real-estate company in Los Angeles, had begun less strongly but now was gaining, having passed his 28-year-old son, Mike. His secret, he said, was the Shiatsu massage and an unbending competitiveness. He goaded himself by talking of Conlan's lead, calling his rival "Sneaky George" and saying. "I'm going to hang on him, I'm going to drive him crazy."

"But Bill, that's cruel," I said. "Can you sustain that cruelty for another 125 miles?"

"Sure. That's what it's all about."

Another hard man was Pat Gorey, 38, who tends bar at The Red Blazer on Second Avenue and 81st Street in Manhattan. A strong starter and an ashen, wobbly finisher who had a disturbing tendency to lie down with his head in the road, Gorey had smoked two packs a day for 25 years. After two weeks of our setting on him he quit—for a day—and looked so grave that the more humane among us urged him to keep on with his disgusting practice.

If we were protective of anyone, it was Carlene Lucas, 38, of Novato, Calif., who combined boundless energy with a faint air of hesitancy. A housewife with three children, in 1970 she contracted guillainbarr�, a disease that destroys the myelin sheath covering the nerves, and for four months she was paralyzed. She recovered slowly, taking up running both as therapy and as an affirmation of her return to a full life. She had seen a circular for the footrace at a friend's house and had decided to run in it "as my first truly selfish act," she said.

The next three days, 15 miles from Bellows to Laenani Beach Park, 16 miles to Hukilau Beach Park near the Mormon Temple at Laie and 19 miles to Alii Beach Park in Haleiwa, seemed to fray our nerves more than any earlier passage. A garbage truck passed with its driver and hauler screaming invective at us. A truck went for McCormack and a bus veered off after Henderson and Peck, its driver bearing the serene face of the angel of death. The feeling of always being the hunted moved us to an ascending hatred of the automobile.

Later, calmed by a cool beach, beautiful colors, spray floating over black rocks, we examined our deteriorating feet in the soft glow of survival.

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