Going the distance, and then some

May 02, 2003 12:00 am

LOOKING FOR some easy money?

Bet on Dave Urquhart to win his division at May 18's 7.5-mile Bay to Breakers race in San Francisco.

But you might have trouble spotting the 49-year-old Summerville High School principal among the 50,000 naked centipedes, champagne-toting waiters, drag queens and Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence cresting the Hayes Street Hill.

That's because Urquhart looks normal: He's trim, fit and — along with thousands of others — figures on turning 10- to 11-minute miles.

Which is also the reason he's a lock to win his division — "guys who just had heart transplants."

In this division of maybe one, "normal" translates to amazing.

A YEAR AGO, Urquhart could no more finish Bay to Breakers than win the Olympic marathon.

His heart, weakening for more than a decade and propped up with an implanted defibrillator and a pharmacopoeia of exotic drugs, last spring had less get up and go than a '74 Pinto with a cracked head.

Walking a block had Urquhart gasping and dizzy. His heart had the output of a leaky faucet. His skin color ranged from white to blue, and he was always cold. It was like living in a freezer.

Urquhart's liver and kidneys also suffered. And his sloshing body hoarded water like a camel's: "It was like I was pregnant with twins," he said.

But there was little humor in his plight:

"I was afraid I'd die," admitted Urquhart. "All I thought about was my heart."

IT WASN'T always like that.

When he and his wife, Teree, went to Sonora's Cinema 5 to see "JFK" on Jan. 2, 1992, Dave was an active former high-school jock (football, basketball and baseball at San Rafael) who still played softball, refereed basketball and ran 10Ks.

But midway through the Oliver Stone epic, his heart began to race like Seabiscuit on crank. When his pulse was still machine gunning long after the movie was over, he knew multiple conspiracy theories were not to blame.

At a Sonora emergency room, doctors wielding high-voltage paddles reined in Urquhart's runaway ticker.