Exchange between Bob and Zane Kesey:

    My name is Bob Hodge & I am a former marathon runner who spent a week at >the Beijing marathon in 1981 with Ken Kesey and NIKE RUNNING publication crew. Ken wrote a phenomenal story which appeared in this running mag. with some excellent photos as well.
   There is a version of the same story in Demon Box. It was a great adventure for me. I am from Lowell Mass. (Kerouac hometown). I have a website (strictly non-profit, no ads etc.) with my own personal running 
history as well as some other marathon runners training logs and various newspaper and magazine articles.
    I was hoping to obtain permission to add this Beijing article to my website. 
I would love to add it here:

Appreciate any response.   Ciao          Bob

From: Zane Kesey, Key-Z Productions
Sent: Monday, December 09, 2002 11:49 AM
To: Robert J. Hodge
Subject: Re: Beijing Marathon 1981

Hi Bob....
wish I was there.... is the right place for it!
We had a great photo and slide presentation afterwards with Brian 
Lanker...nice to have a pro taking your trip photos!
I might even link up to it??

"never get off the bus!
zane kesey

Zane,       Thanks so much for your reply. Here is a link to the article in progress. I need to proof it again and hope to add it to the site soon. It would be great if you would link to it. Looks like I'm on the bus!

Thanks again,    Bob Hodge

Running Into the Great Wall

by Ken Kesey
photographs by Brian Lanker

[This lengthy article, by Ken Kesey, originally appeared in Running magazine (Jan./Feb. 1982, vol. 7 No. 1.). With the 1981 Beijing Marathon as the focal point, expect a fascinating look at China as it was opening its doors to the rest of the world after years of secrecy and seclusion,  a consequence of Mao's "Cultural Revolution".]

Yang was a minority boy from an outlying
province in China when a mysterious invitation to
represent his country in the Beijing Marathon ran
him into the alien world of travel, international
competition, free-wheeling American
journalists and more.

Scraps of verse appearing here are snatched from various translations of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. This most venerable of all Chinese classics gave impetus to dozens of different philosophies and movements over scores of centuries, the most recent probably being the Beat movement of the fifties, inspiring Snyder, Ginsberg, Kerouac, etc. An older contemporary of Confucius (55-479 B.C.), Lao Tzu was the historian in charge of archives in the province of Chou in Western China. He wrote nothing of his own but taught by example and parable. Myth and tradition have it that, as the famous sage was at last departing his homeland for the mountains of his end, the keeper of the mountain pass detained him, begging: Master, my duties as sentry of this remote outpost have made it impossible for me to visit your teachings. As you are about to leave the world behind, could you not also leave behind a few words of wisdom for my sake?
     Whereupon the Lao Tzu sat down and filled two small books with 81 short verses, less than some 5,000 characters, and then departed. No one ever heard where he went.

There is a thing confusedly formed,
Born before heaven and earth.
Silent and void,
It stands alone and does not change,
Goes round and does not weary.
It is capable of giving birth to the world.
I know not its name
So I style it 'the way ...
Man models himself on earth,
Earth on heaven,
Heaven on the way,
And the way on that which is naturally so.

The dark was already pressing down out of the eastern sky when Yang at last swung off the main road from the village and opened up for his finishing sprint down the canal path. A hundred and thirty meters away, at the end of the row of low mud and brick houses crouching along both sides of the dirt lane, his uncle's dwelling was tucked back beneath two huge acacias. A large estate compared to the other 10-by-10 yards with huts, the building housed his uncle's denture-and-cycle-repair service, as well as his uncle's wife and their four children, his uncle's wife's ancient father, who was Yang's grandfather and an inveterate pipe-smoker and wind-breaker and giggler, also Yang's mother and Yang's three sisters, and usually a client or two staying over on one of the thin woven mats to await the repair of their transportation or recuperate from the repair of their molars.

Yang could not see the house as he ran toward the looming acacias, but he could easily visualize the scene. The light would already have been moved from above the evening meal to the dishwashing, and the family would have moved to the television in the shop room, trying to find places among the packing crates of dental molds and the benches strewn with greasy tools. The only light would be the blue flutter of the tiny black and white screen, softly beating at the dark like the wings of a moth. Yang knew just how they would look, cramped in the clutter of the room, faces fluttering as they silently watched the broadcast. His uncle would be in the dentist chair, cranked and tilted and swiveled to the position of optimum comfort, a cigarette cupped in his stubby hand, his shirt front open. His wife would be perched beside him on her nurse's stool. On the floor in half lotus, Grandfather would be leaned forward, giggling, his long pipe only inches from the electric face on the screen. Farther back his four cousins and his two youngest sisters would be positioned about the paraphernalia on the floor, trying to sit straight and appear interested in the reports of flood victims along the Yangtze and how the disaster might affect the rice and wheat quotas. Along the rear wall, at the raised cot, his oldest sister would be preparing the infants for the night, wrapping their bottoms and wiping their noses then sliding them, one after the other, onto the pad beneath the cot. The bird would be hung near the door, covered against evening drafts.

"The dark was already pressing down
out of the eastern sky when Yang at last
swung off the main road from the
village and opened up for his finishing
sprint down the canal path.

In the other room his mother would be cleaning the dishes, as quietly as possible.

His uncle would be angry that Yang was late again, but nothing would be said. A quick scowl turned from the television. No reprimand. No questions. They would all know where he had been. They knew the only dalliance he could afford besides his athletics, was the public library. For one-half fen a reader could rent two hours on a wooden bench, and there enjoy silence and the kind of privacy a library creates, even when the benches were packed, reader to reader. Then he could take a book home after.

Yang had hoped to borrow one of the new editions of Lu Hsun, issued and widely distributed in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the great writer's birth but all the publicity had excited many other fans and the books were already on loan. Yang was reduced to choosing from older works. He had chosen Wang Shih-fu's Romance of the Western Chamber. It was his father's favorite and his father had continued to teach it during all the criticism of the "slave-ridden classics." While it was no longer branded counterrevolutionary, such works were still shunned by teachers and students alike. Indeed, the last loan date on Western Chamber was almost three years ago. The last borrower was his father.

Continued in part 2  | Home  | '81 Races