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Phantom of the Operator Essay

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As a boy he was brought up in a harsh and cruel environment with a drunk for a father and a drug addict for a mother. Despite this he has still turned out to be the best charity runner we have ever seen. During his school years the only escape he got from the horrible situation at home was running, swimming in his school’s pool and stealing a ride on his mates’ bikes, and that’s just what he did, he became the world’s best triathlete.

He would always hang around with the girls from the school although it seemed that he was not going out with any of them but then who knows. From about the age of twelve he started to have an obsession about Hawaii and hula girls as well as grass skirts, getting him the nickname Hula man. He also ran for Kent and then later England, but found that it was not a huge amount of fun. Chris became a costumed runner in 1985 when he ran his second Examiner Bay to Breakers 12K road race covered in real flower leis.

The next year, donned in hula-skirt and homemade carnation leis, Hula man made his debut. He has returned in an assortment of colourful outfits every year since, but the hula-skirt and leis remain his trademark guise. A costume contest prizewinner in over a dozen races, he takes being a comic costume runner very seriously. Once he carried a 35-pound replica of a London phone booth 12 kilometres while dressed as the “Phantom of the Operator. ” Another attention grabber was his full size Port-o-Potty.

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Hula man strives for new challenges all the time so his oversized costumes keep getting wilder and crazier. In 1992, unrelenting despair made it necessary for him to give up drugs and alcohol for good. He turned to exercise to help him stay sober. One day on a training run, a twisted ankle ended his marathon plans. He decided to train for a triathlon and replaced his running with swimming and biking to keep fit while his ankle healed. His first triathlon goal was the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon.

Thinking everyone would be doing it without a wetsuit, he swam without one 3 days a week in the 53-56 degree water of SF Bay. When Hula man dreams, he dreams in challenges. Thinking about crossing the finish line that day stills gives him goose bumps. He has since completed the Vine man, Wildflower, Mike & Robs, Mount Sunapee Endurance and Hawaii Iron man Triathlons. Chris bought a computer in 1994 to make him more employable and to have a complete change from his 12-year stint as a cabdriver in San Francisco.

He immediately found the newsgroup rec. sport. triathlon and became a regular contributor. He loved computers so much, before long he was making his own web site and Hula man’s Simple Tri-Tips for beginning triathletes was born. He still maintains the site at www. hulaman. com. Chris’s realization that he might actually be able to train for and complete an Iron man distance triathlon didn’t come as a flash, but slowly evolved over a couple of years. He was able to secure a lottery spot for the Iron man on his second attempt.

His undying faith in a Higher Power that helped him overcome his addictions still help him in the gruelling moments of training and racing. He finds during long runs and rides something within himself that can’t be found any other way. Chris is always reminding people that competing can be fun and must be fun for you to do well, as well as to not take it too seriously, so he shows up at most races in garb that elicits double takes. Being fit, being outside, companionship of others with the same interest, relying on a power greater than you; these are gifts that he never wants to take for granted.

He strives to be an adventurer and do extraordinary things. For him, the Iron man seemed so unrealistic and crazy that only a superman would even think about it, but he finished with a smile on his face. His one requirement for training and competing is: if it’s not fun most of the time, it’s not worth doing. On the third Sunday of each May, Hula man can be found in outrageous attire at the intersection of Spear and Howard in San Francisco two hours before the start of the Bay to Breakers race.

He designs and builds his costumes for the race when he gets away from work as a Technical Support Manager in Tucson. As for the Iron man, he hopes to always be a triathlete and wants to do all the different Iron man courses. He continues to compete at local events both in the triathlon and running. His newest goal is to complete an ultra-marathon and he aspires to do the Western States 100 miler. Will he do it in a hula-skirt? He wants to try! We are betting he will. How will you bet?

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