"In any case," said Robinson, "there will be a few men out there Sunday who can run a bit."
Akio Usami, Japan's defending champion and national record holder (2:10:37.8), was at another hotel. A graduate student at Tokyo's Nihon University, he had won marathons in Athens in April and at Munich in September.
Two Finns, two Russians, a West German and another New Zealander were expected.
"They invited four Kiwis?" I said.
"Oh, no," said Robinson. "They only paid for Jack. Terry and I had to put down $1,400 apiece, air fare and expenses, to race here."
"My God," said Frank. "Why?"
When Robinson spoke, all the blue showed in his eyes. " New Zealand can afford to send only 80 competitors to the Munich Olympics. How many will the U.S. send?"
"There. Our athletes are selected on the basis of their world rankings, which is the only way to choose between a swimmer and a rower, for example. We marathoners have to go under 2:16 simply to be considered. That time will put a man in the top 20 in the world unless a dozen do it here [in 1970 10th place at Fukuoka was 2:16]. We can't hope to produce those times in New Zealand because all our courses run over mountains. But if we're any kind of runners we ought to do it here."
"So you paid that kind of money to try," said Frank. "What do you do for a living?"