"I felt weak and drained in the blocks." Reynolds said later. "But at the gun you just react."
Egbunike reacted like a madman. Always a fast starter, he shot around the first turn seemingly all out, making up two staggers on the other runners. "What could his strategy possibly have been?" asked Reynolds. "Did he want to pull me too fast and burn me out? Or steal the win?"
Quarter-milers are sprinters who must carry their speed. They succeed according to how well they practice a brutal finesse. Evans's best all-out 200 was 20.4. In the Mexico 400, he passed 200 in 21.4, then poured everything he had into a final 200 of 22.5. Thus his record was the greatest single expression of the essence of the quarter: holding on.
In Zurich, Egbunike hit the 200 in 20.6, instantly becoming the embodiment of all the guys who have ever said, "One of these days I'll go out that fast and not come back." They always come back. He started coming back.
Reynolds was three meters behind. "Innocent went out so fast that I looked out of the race," he said. His flowing, rangy stride seemed almost languid compared with the furious pumping of Egbunike. "I didn't panic. I knew I had time to make up what he'd gotten." Reynolds's 200 time was 21.1. He had made a swift furlong look like cruising.
On the turn, he went to work. "I could see Innocent dying up there," he said. "I wanted to get near him by the end of the turn. I got within striking distance, and suddenly Steve Lewis was right on my left hip."
Into the stretch, it looked like a typical 400. The early burner, Egbunike, was dead. He would finish sixth in 44.97. Everett was just four feet behind Lewis, who was two feet behind Reynolds. "I knew it would be a close finish," Reynolds said.
How gloriously wrong he was. For when he dug down in response to Lewis, Reynolds cut loose as no quarter-miler has ever done. While the field stiffened, strained and goggled, he sprinted freely, beautifully, emotionally ahead.
"In the stretch," he would say, "you're holding your body. You're gutting it out, but you're holding composure. If you start moving your head or throwing your arms around or going side to side, you're fighting. You've got to not do that. You've got to hold that fatigue, hold it in. Feel it. Hide it."
He was running with an expression of wild, almost malicious delight, and he was pulling to a huge lead. Thirty meters from the finish he closed his eyes and showed his teeth. "I knew it was world-record pace," he said. "That was determination. I was saying to myself, Go all the way."