Tuesday October 12, 2004


Well, the days are getting easier. I start this one with a six mile run, up and back on AliıI drive. A Gatorade tent has gone up at about the 2 ½ mile marker, but no one is there. Itıs not until Iım on my way back that I realize this is a self-serve aid station for Ironman week. Hah!. (In actual fact, it is set up for a pre-Ironman 10k to be held later in the week).


Conference is again in the morning, so the afternoon is once again devoted to Sightseeing. I go south, through actual Kona Coffee country, to the combination Kingıs put-in bay, and Place of Refuge. It works like this. If youıre a pre-Cookian Hawaiian, and you break Kapu (taboo), you run the risk of angering one of the horrible weather or other gods, like Pele (goddess of volcanoes). This is a place where the surf and the heat and the rain and the odd volcanic eruption or lava flow can get in the way of simply enjoying yourself in paradise. So, do something the leader doesnıt like (such as standing in his shadow, or going potty in his turf, or chasing his wife), and his soldiers will find you and put you to death. UNLESS, you can get to the place of refuge. There, you are safe. If youıre a conscientious objecter, for example, you can sit out the war with no hard feelings as long as you pledge your honor and faith to the winning warlord.  Thereıs even a little chapel, sort of a confessional, where a priest will absolve your sins before you get to go back home, with all forgiven.


The trick is, this is kind of like the original Ironman. You have to outrun your pursuers, and THEN, you have to SWIM to the Place of Refuge. You see, they are always built on a little peninsula, surrounded on the landward side by the Kingıs special grounds, and of course, you canıt set foot in there (unless the priest walks you through, but the only way to get to him is through the Place of Refuge.) Catch-22. If they had a bike, Iım sure they would have thrown that into the mix somehow. So our sport does have deep Hawaiian roots, as weıve always known.


I wander around, and admire the palm trees, the wooden replica carvings, and MASSIVE lava rock walls, and all of the old folks disgorged from a bus into the guts of this place. Then, itıs into the adjoining bay for another bout of snorkeling. This place has a lava ledge step in, Literally within six inches of my entry, the underwater world is TEEMING with great gobs of fish. Irridescents, neon yellows, fat flat flounders, mixed schools (sort of like a one room school house ­ all varieties band together to defeat the dreaded sharks and dolphins), and even a lazy green turtle, probably as old as I am. Another grand excuse to swim, just like an old Hawaiian, across the bay to the place of refuge. But no priest awaits me there, only more tourist bus escapees (probably from the daily cruise ship) all pasty in their shorts and waxed white hair dos. One old man holds court with no less than 4 equally wrinkly women ­ probably the ratio he has to endure back at the retirement home. He clearly loves his role as sole King of this little troupe. I guess the bus driver is their priest.

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