Bailey arrived in Los Angeles Thursday night, trotted a casual half-mile in a Santa Monica park and devoted the next afternoon to visiting the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio and getting photographed—with obvious delight—standing beside Actress Deborah Kerr. He, too, thought about Delany. "Ron beat me in the Garden last winter. I made a lot of stupid mistakes and I was going to beat him or die trying. But I came down to get second."
As he warmed up just before race time Bailey looked more like a man enjoying the pleasant summery day and the carnival atmosphere of the big meet than a fellow about to project himself into the ranks of track immortals. The weather was lovely—the Los Angeles smog was gone, the air clean, the sky blue and the temperature a pleasant 70�.
The iron-hard Coliseum track—a surface built for sprinters rather than distance runners—bothered him not a whit. Bailey had run on it before. He drew Lane Two, next to Landy, listened to the polite murmur of the crowd when he was introduced and leaned forward for a standing start. He burst ahead of the world record holder at the gun, but when Ron Delany raced out from the seventh lane and took the lead, Bailey let him go. In fact, he virtually disappeared from the consciousness of the crowd as the pattern of the race began to evolve.
ROARS IN THE COLISEUM
Young Delany—a brave figure in sky-blue shoes and the black jersey of Villanova—led the field by 15 yards in the first quarter. But he faded in the second quarter. Landy, intent on the four-minute mile at all costs, moved up, challenged and passed him on the backstretch of the second lap and set out to correct the pace. He led at the half, but the time was alarmingly slow: 2:02.3. To mend his race Landy opened his gap on the field steadily all through the third, hit the line in 3:01.5 and then, with the crowd roaring, set out to break the Magic Four.
Most of this time Bailey ran fourth. But he passed California's Lon Spurrier before the start of the last lap and was third. He passed Delany and was second, and then, still improbably strong, he closed a 10-yard gap, pulled up on Landy entering the last turn and whacked him smartly on the seat of his pants. "I just wanted to frighten him on—make him run," he cried later.
But something else happened. Landy—who heard the warning roar of the crowd, and who believed it was Delany who was closing on him—was unable to pull away. And Bailey, 75 yards from home, suddenly was struck by the blinding realization that he could win. He came up shoulder to shoulder and the pair raced even around the turn. Then Bailey pulled out by a yard and drove for the tape. Halfway down, Landy closed up to two feet but it was still Bailey—who turned his last quarter in the stunning time of 55.5 seconds—running with great strength at the tape.
Afterward, amid the deafening uproar, he fell into the retching daze of complete exhaustion. He held both hands to his diaphragm and gasped, "I can't talk." He got back into the gleaming Coliseum dressing rooms with difficulty. But after a doctor gave him a soother in a paper cup he collected himself. "This race today," he said, "was an unexpected climax to a long career. I believed I could go close to four minutes—but it wasn't until the last that I thought I had any chance. I looked at the big crowd before the race and tried to get excited. I was afraid I was too complacent—I guess it takes a lot to get my heart up. But in the last 220 I was running on adrenalin right enough. I always thought a four-minute mile would feel about like a 4:10 mile but it hurts a lot more. I was just gutting it in the last straight." He grinned ruefully. "But I'm afraid that now I've done it, everyone will be doing it."
Landy, who looked wan, hollow-cheeked, but almost unaffected by the struggle, smiled and offered no excuses. "I must," he said, "run faster next week. I must run faster."
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