Extra Point

By Mike Fitzgerald

Friday, December 6, 1996


Seeing people run
makes me nervous

"GIVE me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore."

The Statue of Liberty inscription? Nah.

It's an invitation to the Honolulu Marathon.

OK, OK. Calm down.

You know that the last thing I would do is poke fun at one of our state's most visible and successful sporting events.

Even if I do have a few wisecracks about the Great Race, I'm sure the organizers will take them in stride. Heh-heh.

Plus, I like Dr. Jim Barahal, the guy who somehow attracts more than 30,000 skeletons in jogging shorts to our balmy island every December.

It's just that I don't understand why anyone with a brain larger than a pea would want to run 26.2 miles. That's why they invented cars, bicycles and golf carts.

To make it even sillier, the race starts at Ala Moana Park and ends just down the road at Kapiolani Park.

Hey, if you're going to jog all the way to Hawaii Kai, you might as well stop off for a triple Shackburger and a pitcher of beer - maybe catch some hoops on TV - before hitting the return road.

Of course, by then you might decide to take the bus back into town, which kind of defeats the purpose.

I have always hated to run unless it is absolutely necessary, like being chased by a Harley rider, jealous husband or a large dog with bared teeth.

In fact, it makes me nervous just to see someone running down the street.

That is a result of growing up in Chicago. No one dared to go jogging back there. Why?

There were several reasons. For about 360 days of the year it is either bitter cold or extremely hot and humid.

Either way, you are much better off if you walk at a moderate pace to the corner tavern and sip on a brandy if it's winter, or a cold, delicious beer if it's summer.

The heat or air-conditioning is blasting, there are plenty of health foods within reach - Slim Jims, pork rinds and maraschino cherries, for example - and the TV is always showing something interesting, like horse racing. (Now there's an animal much more suited for running, you know, four legs instead of two, sleek build.)

And my extensive research over the years shows that people who hang out in bars live much longer than everyone else. Hey, there are a lot more old drunks around than old doctors.

PLUS, back in Chicago, if you saw someone running down the street, the odds were much higher that the person had just committed some sort of crime.

Chicago cop: Hey, pal, what's the hurry?

Chicago runner: I'm working out to get ready for the Honolulu Marathon next month, officer.

Chicago cop: Then why are your pockets filled with Rolex watches and gold chains?

Chicago runner: Uh, extra weight since it's windy.

Chicago cop: Well, let's give your poor feet a rest by riding in the back seat of my squad car down to the station.

There was a great runner back in my old neighborhood, though.

His name was Rubberlegs Ryan. His legs were so thin that he could use them as pogo sticks when he got tired.

So he would jog a mile and then bounce a mile, jog a mile, bounce a mile.

Ol' Rubberlegs still holds the VFW picnic record, jogging and bouncing across the forest preserve like a kangaroo drunk on tequila.

Anyway, I would like to officially welcome all of the Honolulu Marathon runners to our fine city.

I'll be the one with the wide straw hat sitting on a cooler in the shade by the finish line.

Watching people run sure makes me thirsty.



Mike Fitzgerald's commentary appears every
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.




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