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Master of the Mile
John Walters
October 28, 1996
Steve Scott, now 40 and a cancer survivor, plans to break four minutes again
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October 28, 1996

Master Of The Mile

Steve Scott, now 40 and a cancer survivor, plans to break four minutes again

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When his performances—and, thus, appearance fees—began to diminish, Scott sought other income. In 1995 he and Kim invested in a car wash in Fountain Valley, Calif. To promote the business, Steve strapped himself to the hood of a car and sent it through the gauntlet of water jets, bristles and buffers. Last January, after seven months of financial losses, the Scotts abandoned the car-wash trade. "Funny thing," says Steve, "I always liked washing my own car, anyway."

A runner's 40th birthday gives him masters status, a new field of competitors and, potentially, a financial windfall. "Nobody cares if someone runs a sub-3:50 after age 30," says Scott. "But running sub-four at age 40, as a cancer survivor—that would be something special."

Scott is fading. On the homestretch he is passed by Stember, who is wearing a SUB 4 singlet he borrowed from a friend. At the four-minute mark Scott is 60 meters from the finish line, which he eventually crosses in 4:10.33, one second behind Stember. Scott finishes last. "I'm glad I caught one guy," Stember says later. "Odd that it happened to be Scott."

Weeks pass. Mary Scott's friends have offered to show her the race on tape, but she will never see it. She is asked what her son fears more, death or aging. "Probably getting old," says Mary. "Steve's such a vivacious person. I imagine the thought of slowing down would really scare him."

Summer passes. In September, Scott runs the Discover Card Mile on New York's Fifth Avenue, twice—against a masters field and then in a showcase versus Coghlan—and wins both races. His 4:06.57 in the masters event is his fastest mile since his bout with cancer. "This is an indicator that good things are to come," he says. "I'll do six or seven races in the spring to try to get under four minutes."

Now Scott is standing on a cliff above the Pacific. On the horizon a setting sun splashes a miracle of red, orange and blue on the water. The sun, most powerful at midday, is most inspiring at twilight. "I may never break four minutes again," says Scott, his blue eyes sparkling. "But if you enjoy running as much as I do, what's wrong with continuing to do it? Even if you are no longer one of the best."

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