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IfA Runners

by Paul Coleman, IfA Astronomer

The IfA Perimeter Run team "Lost in Space" and supporters posed for a pre-race picture in front of the IfA. From left to right, Brent Tully, John Tonry, Lance Dundon, Nick Kaiser, Henry Hsieh, Jana Pittachová, Larry Denneau, Dave Donovan, Jeff Kuhn, and Joel Kuhn.

It's not unusual to find astronomers running around in the dark, but they usually do so within the confines of a telescope dome.

In recent months, a new phenomenon here at the IfA actually has a group of staff members out and about in the cold night air. They are runners--fairly serious ones--as evidenced by the distances being run. The group includes such luminaries as Nick Kaiser, Jeffrey Kuhn, John Tonry, Harold Ebeling, Henry Hsieh, Jana Pittichová, Luke Dundon, Larry Denneau, Dale Kocevski, and John Rayner. They have all competed in various long distance races, here and abroad.

The Institute's team for the Oahu Perimeter Island Run went by the moniker "Lost in Space." Captained by Pittichová, it garnered a very respectable fourteenth place in the February race. David Donovan, Brent Tully, Joel Kuhn (son of Jeff), and Nancy Lyttle were among the Institute's support team and van drivers who offered crucial support throughout the night. The team ran around the Island (140 miles) in a little over 18 hours. Each of the seven runners ran four separate legs in a grueling test of resolve.

The acknowledged leader of the runners is Nick Kaiser. In December 2004, he took sixth place in his age group in the Honolulu Marathon. In January, he ran in the prophetically named Hurt 100 (kilometers, in his case). In February, Kaiser and most of the group competed in the Island Perimeter Run. He followed this with the Run to the Sun up Haleakala in March. In April, he and Ebeling ran the venerable Boston Marathon. May's run was "a mere eight miles" in the Run with a View on Oahu.

The stories of hardship and effort told during our morning coffee meetings have not dissuaded potential runners from being interested in this intense activity. In fact, the IfA runners are considering fielding two teams for next year's perimeter race. That's fourteen serious runners! It appears that running at the IfA is here to stay.