Suddenly a burst
of noise erupted in the center of the room. Jock Semple, trainer for the Boston
Athletic Association, was mouthing off in a Scottish accent and wagging a
finger at a blond runner wearing glasses. Almost at once Handicapper Fred Brown
moved over and, consulting with Semple, added four minutes to the boy's
handicap. "Yoor too good a rooner to start so early," snorted Semple.
The boy, who probably should have been angry at losing his chance for an easy
prize, looked pleased as Punch.
As I walked to
the starting line Semple explained the course to me. "Most New England
10-miles are shoort," he advised. "This one hoppens to be a wee bit
loong." From the way he stretched out "loong" I surmised (rightly)
that the course must be close to 11 miles.
My wife and
children, their pony-riding over for the time being, were waiting to watch the
start. As the gun sounded a handful of runners plodded off, but I stood riveted
to the ground like the Minute Man monument in Concord. "Run, Daddy,
run!" shouted my oldest boy, Kevin. "Why aren't you running?"
I'd like to know."
When it came my
turn I jumped half a step before the timer yelled, "Go." Within two
miles I had caught the runner who had started a minute before me, Tom Laris,
formerly of Dartmouth. But by five miles Buschman came steaming by us, and I
suddenly wished it was one of those shoort New England 10-miles. I thought I
passed half the population of Salem in the last two miles, but when I reached
the finish line I had only improved to 19th. Buschman, who was bothered by a
cramp in his side, was seventh. Laris, with a better kick, finished fourth.
cold-water shower was available for the 80 runners, but scattered over a long
banquet table was enough merchandise to have stocked our local J. C. Penney
store. Unluckily, by the time 18 other runners had selected their prizes, my
choice had been narrowed to a toilet seat and a pair of laundry bags. One of
our toilet seats at home indeed needed replacing, but our automobile trunk
already bulged and my mind recoiled at the thought of standing before several
thousand spectators at a lawn potty and being handed a toilet seat. I chose the
The day after my
humiliation at Salem we drove to Cape Cod and our rented cottage near East
Sandwich, which we had located with the help of Stuart Adams, one of Semple's
"Where is our
next race?" my wife asked me shortly after we unpacked our bags.
right," I said.