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"There is too much left to say that," I insisted. His was the kind of concession I'd felt like making when he'd beaten me by a mile on our sixth day. "We don't know what will happen to us."
We had really worked ourselves into a place of isolation. The land was mountainside right into the sea, the cliffs black and green, the ocean clouded with black sand. We bathed in a stream and camped in the churchyard. Cold wind whipped at the tent. A pair of beautiful horses walked about the camp, requesting apples. I watched the gray breakers, thinking that surely McCormack had meant what he said. By all evidence he was finished. But he should resist, I thought. Resist if only for the sake of resisting. It's never over until it's over. Rather than relief at this improvement in my chances, I felt determined to run just as hard as before, to refuse his concession, to hold to the terms of the race.
We had a windfall day off. The schedule dictated a run of 20 miles to Hana, but at three miles 100 yards of road had fallen into the sea, leaving sheer, uncrossable cliff. So we made the day an untimed hike and sent scouts into the interior to find a way around. McCormack's police whistle signaled success. We helped each other up the slope and across a ridge and down, along hastily strung ropes, through a 20-foot chimney to the road. Then in congenial groups we walked the rest of the way, past waterfalls and newborn foals and into rain forest.
We passed the green promontory where Charles Lindbergh lies, and finally, being ridiculously tired by now because this walking business was killing, we were rescued by the vans, which had gone almost all the way around the island. They took us to camp at lovely Wainapanapa Bay, and everyone was happy.
The next morning we ran 16 miles along the famously curvy road from Hana, finding the rise and fall to be far more memorable than the curves. Krichko, out of contention but feeling good, got away. A three-mile downhill into Keanae seemed calculated to batter legs. I eased, but not enough. I had twinges up and down both calves. Yet McCormack finished 10 minutes behind me. A man of his word. I now had a 27-minute lead with four days to go.
The next day would be 20.7 miles. Then we'd finish with legs of 10, 14 and 10 miles. The thing to do was dog the long one and save something for the last three. Trotting around before the start I had wrong feelings in the left hip and both calves, morning twinges.
McCormack and Krichko set a solid pace. It was wet and cool. McCormack wore his cap that said F.D.N.Y.—THE BRAVEST. As the group strung out, Rick Landau, of New York, said, "Every day it's the same. The same people ahead, the same order."
I got warm and ran in third, trying to relax and banish the nagging worry that filled me whenever McCormack was ahead. The road's pattern was constant, uphill to the crest of one of the great green headlands that jut into the Pacific on Maui's north shore, then down into a new valley, across the stream at its back, then up and out, to the next crest and the sight of a new valley, the runners ahead already climbing out of it.
Within three miles my right calf was catching, first on the uphill when it had to stretch, soon on the downhill. On a rough patch the calf went with a jolt, making me leap and call out, startling birds from the forest. I kept on, emotionally charged, understanding that my shouting when the pain speared the leg was a sign that the last reserves had come forth. This was an echo of the Olympic marathon in 1972, in which I'd gone from second place to fourth in the last five miles, losing a medal. It had been a cramp in my leg then, too.
By the second aid station I was down to hobbling nine- or 10-minute miles. McCormack would need only 10 miles to take all of my 27 minutes.