"I finished and a great feeling of thankfulness swept through me. There was no sense of conquest, none of this baloney about vanquishing anybody."
Across the line, he waved away blankets and fought off officials and reporters to stand at the finish and embrace Usami.
"My only thought was, "Here we are goddamnit! We made it!' This man had suffered as much as I had. We all had."
He stood there and shook hands with every finisher until I came in. I was the 38th person he shook hands with.
In the last hour, I crept. The kilometer times were gibberish, so different were they from what I had expected. I thought about quitting. Ambulances waited every three miles. I remembered being taken from the Pan-American marathon with heat exhasution.
"I never quit!" I shouted aloud. "Never! Never! Never!" I repeated this every 500 yards to the end.
More Japanese passed. My hip stiffened. The West German, Manfred Steffny, a pale, effeminate runner who had arrived only two days before, passed. He asked me what was wrong.
"Fever, sick, blisters, don't give a damn...."
He left me spouting afflictions. I was the last of the foreigners. People called "Moo-ah, Moo-ah," held their children by the shoulders and pointed them at me. I imagined them saying, "See, even the silver-medal winner of last year can be reduced to a stumbling, tortured wreck." I was a wheezing mortal.
In some places the crowd had departed. Paper flags drifted across the street like candy-stripe leaves. A few children waved sticks from which the paper had been torn.