As a renowned cardiologist he has saved many lives. As the founder of the Honolulu Marathon and co-founder of the Honolulu Marathon Clinic he has impacted the lives of thousands of individuals who dare to dream of completing a marathon. The Honolulu Marathon Clinic’s rich history is a testament to Dr. Scaff’s ultimate dedication to others and his wonderful heart–despite his reputation as an irascible character. For more than 35 years he has donated his time and expertise to encourage neophyte athletes to do what only one percent of the population ever attains. Each Sunday morning for 9 months, for the past 35 years, the clinic staff, led by Scaff, encourages, trains and inspires would-be marathoners.
Dr. Scaff is a pioneer: he was one of the first physicians to prescribe running as therapy for heart disease directing the first cardiac rehabilitation program in the islands. He demonstrated this by showing that with proper training, even heart patients could complete marathons. Dr. Scaff is universally renowned as one of the originators of this concept that is followed throughout the world.
He is as fervent about long-distance running as evangelicals are about their faith. He is also a best-selling author, much sought-after lecturer, and has been featured in Sports Illustrated, People and Runner’s World. For years, Dr. Scaff served as Consultant Medical Director of Corporate Fitness for Nike. In the early 70s, Honolulu Marathon Clinic co-founders doctors Scaff and John Wagner, were nationally recognized as pioneers and occasionally regarded as mavericks, they have engineered intensive research and demonstrated deep conviction in the field of cardiac rehabilitation through a carefully supervised program of long-distance running. The Honolulu Marathon Clinic has served as a model, internationally influencing a flock of budding marathon clinics from Australia to New York City.
Although an inherited condition that caused partial paralysis of his leg muscles has slowed Scaff from a run to a walk, he remains dedicated to teaching running. Now in his 70s, he still has a strong cheering section. In February 2011, the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii named Scaff one of five recipients as a Hawaii Living Treasure. When members of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii asked Dr. Scaff, if he came back reincarnated, who would he like to be, without pause he responded with a smile and a twinkle in his eyes, “I’d like to come back as Mrs. Scaff’s next husband.”