Wednesday, April 22, 1998

Science has borne out what Jack Scaff was saying 25 years ago. Today the Honolulu Marathon founder has slowed to a walk, but he's still preaching and living his movement-as-medicine message -- The Scaff way
Above, Jack Scaff today.

By Helen Altonn


An inherited condition that is causing partial paralysis of his leg muscles has slowed cardiologist Jack Scaff Jr. from a run to a walk.

"I miss running," says the founder of the Honolulu Marathon, director of the Honolulu Marathon Clinic and race director of the Great Aloha Run.

He doesn't miss a marathon, however, walking the 26 miles, 385 yards with wife Donna. He walks with friends for about two hours, three or four mornings a week.

He says people comment on his weight gain and the lines under his eyes but his blood pressure and cholesterol are fine -- he's just older.

Left, Jack Scaff in 1973.

"I was under 40 when I started this. Now I'm 63. There has to be some changes. Look at the coach for the Green Bay Packers. He doesn't look like the players, but at least I still go out and play with my runners."


Scaff stresses the importance of walking or running at least one hour three times a week to change carbohydrate burning into fat metabolism. When that happens, he tells beginners, "everything changes. You actually think differently."

Run silently to avoid pounding injuries, he advises. And run slowly -- "humble running," he calls it. "The beauty of the marathon is so many people go out there that aren't properly trained. Those of us in the marathon clinic pass thousands of them."

He laughs, recalling when a much older woman passed him once. "Dr. Scaff," she asked, "should I send a cab back for you?"

By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Runners interested in running the 1998 Honolulu Marathon
take in Dr. Jack Scaff's advice at Kapiolani Park.

"If somebody rags you about running, don't pay attention to them," he tells beginners. "The homework will tell. If you want to run better, run more."


Ron Paik thought running 12 to 14 miles was "like going to the moon" until he tried it in August 1975 with the marathon clinic. "It was like a life-defining moment," said Paik, a legislative staffer for House Health Chairman Alex Santiago.

"You have bigger awareness of your health, your body. You did something you never thought you could do before." Paik, who turned 50 on April 4, has run every marathon since 1975.


Scaff says the marathon clinic, co-sponsored by the city Parks and Recreation Department, not only is Hawaii's most successful recreational long-distance running program, "it is probably the most successful in history. It's been emulated around the world."

He wrote a book about marathon training, "Your First Marathon," that's been published four times and sold 15,000 copies with no advertising. "Basically, everything I said as a zealot in 1970 is now commonplace," he says.

By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Jespah Koja, 36, was at the Kapiolani Park bandstand for her
first marathon clinic on a recent Sunday because of a friend.
"I'm a walker actually," Koja said. "I've been walking the
Great Aloha Run a number of years. I've never
thought of myself as a runner before."

He was involved then with a major research project on heart transplant patients running marathons.

People pooh-poohed statements that those who ran a marathon under four hours and didn't smoke wouldn't die of a heart attack in the next six years, he recalls. "People would throw Jim Fixx in my face."

Fixx, author of a best-seller on running, died of a heart attack after a daily run on July 20, 1984. "He died 6.5 years after having run the Boston Marathon under 4 hours," Scaff said. "He wasn't an exception to the rule. He was the rule.

"There is no question; virtually every doctor will now counsel patients to exercise."

Studies show that consistent exercise -- 18 miles a week of running or 25 miles of walking -- reduces by about 38 percent virtually all diseases that affect older people, Scaff says. "Now, that's a pretty powerful drug."


Michael Dudock, 56, says he runs to survive. Formerly with IBM Corp., he said he was diagnosed 10 years ago with bipolar disease, or manic depression. In 1994, he was diagnosed with incurable lymphatic cancer.

Dudock treats both conditions with long-distance running and other exercise. "It's like the glue of everything else I'm doing to control my cancer and bipolar disease, because neither one is going to go away."

He said he started walking and jogging in 1978 after crashing his motorcycle into a parked car while going 100 mph. He said two vertebrae were affected and a neurosurgeon told him there was a chance he might not walk again if he had surgery. "He told me, 'If I were you, I'd get out and run or jog.'"

Dudock ran his first marathon in 1978, then seven more when he felt well. He also has performed in the Aloha State Games since 1990, winning medals in a number of events.

He joined the marathon clinic in November 1996, walked the marathon the past two years and joined the clinic staff.


By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin

David Selzam thrives on running.

Scaff says recreational running or walking for an hour three times a week is "the answer to health maintenance organizations, to our health-care crisis and aging population "Exercise is an absolute, just like lowering blood pressure is an absolute, like stopping cigarette smoking is absolute. These are absolute predictors as far as morbidity and mortality."


When David Selzam was diagnosed with diabetes at age 13 in Texas, a doctor told his parents he'd be lucky to live to 25. "It provided a lifelong motivation for me to exceed what expectations that physician had," said Selzam, now 52.

He took up track and cross-country running in school and continues to run 1-1/2 hours four days a week. He closely monitors his blood sugar and takes three insulin shots a day. He participated in the Great Aloha Run and plans to run his first marathon in December.

Selzam said his physician is amazed that his blood tests and treadmills are so good. "He says there is absolutely no indication I have been an insulin-dependent diabetic for 39 years."


The marathon clinics still draw 100 to 125 people some Sundays. His lectures haven't changed over the years, and he asks others to give talks. "If we're going to have some continuity, I've got to eventually step away from it," he said.

Many first-timers take their first walk or run around the park with Peter Garcia, Scaff's right-hand man. He's been with the clinic since his first marathon in 1985 and shares tips about shoes, abrasions and other running concerns.

When the Honolulu Marathon started with 162 runners, Scaff predicted it would become a big event. Now, "I can't really believe it," he says of last year's 26,495 finishers.


Beate Neher, 38, went to the clinic four years ago "to meet new friends and run together." Her first marathon was in 1993, and she's run every one since. Her health is so good as a result, she says: "I don't need a doctor." Her husband, Fred Boeck, 41, who has a landscaping company, joined her at the clinic two years ago. "I never did a sport before," he said. "I could hardly come around (the park)." He's since done two marathons. The couple also has joined the volunteer staff.


Sean Dodge, 23, University of Hawaii junior and political science major, made it around the park with Garcia, other beginners and friends. "I've been very reluctant just 'cause I'm lazy. I'd rather sleep," he said. Encouraging him was Malia Kuahiwinui, whose husband cares for their two children, 10 months and 3 years old, while she runs. "I'm running to get healthier and so I can enjoy life more," said the University of Hawaii elementary and secondary education graduate student.


By Kathryn Bender, Star-Bulletin
Fred Boeck, left, and wife Beate Neher, right, help run Scaff's clinics.

Scaff is heavily involved with the Great Aloha Run, approaching its 15th anniversary next February. "I think we're going to have a humongous event," he said.

He says the 8-miles-plus run meets his goal to encourage recreational running three hours a week. "You'd be surprised how that changes people's lives."

A clinic is held the first week in January for the Great Aloha Run beginner -- "somebody who can't climb a flight of stairs without stopping to catch a breath," Scaff says. Then, excited at finishing that run, many show up at the marathon clinic -- "the feeder group for all runs in Hawaii."

Scaff is working on a new book with articles on exercise and estrogen-dependent cancer of the breast, uterus and ovaries, on running and pregnancy and other issues of special interest to women.

Although spinal stenosis has caught up with him, Scaff says he "still dreams about running." He'll be at the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in June in San Diego. But his wife will be doing the running.

"I'm going to be at a margarita aid station with my Mexican friends," he said, laughing.

Scaff says

The key to health is to walk or run at least one hour three times a week. Also:

Bullet Run silently: This prevents pounding injuries

Bullet Run slowly: If you can't talk, slow down

Bullet Drink water: 10-12 ounces every 20 minutes during your workout

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