Instead of having to fill out tricky affidavits of eligibility and swear to false performances in the interest of getting into more desirable heats, there was simply a row of event sheets spread out on a long table under the mosquitoes.
"What are we meant to enter?" the girls asked.
"Enter anything you want. School's out."
So they moved along the table, taking an athletic smorgasbord, delightedly entering events they had always thought they might try one day but in more serious situations had been sternly warned against on the grounds that such nonsense might disagree with their track health and prospects.
Jim's sprinter ran 9.9 on the bad track, ran it badly (terrible arms, tight torso), but gave promise that he might be refined into a 9.6 or even 9.5. There were a lot of local school kids, gym-class girls, vacationing college runners and elderly joggers who had no Big Sport prospects or ambitions. Henry, a middle-aged cattleman who is a pole vaulter from East Sawed Log, W. Va., was there. He has built a vaulting pit and runway on the farm, practices in the evenings and shows up at the country meets. In a track shirt, his arms are unusual—bicolored with a farmer's tan and knotted with a farmer's muscles, haymaking muscles on top of vaulter's muscles. He uses an old steel pole and with brute force manages to jump 13'. He pursues his dream of 15' passionately.
There also were a few acquaintances last seen trying and failing to make the plane to Munich. Now the pressure was gone, the agony eased, and what was left was the addiction to the sport. It was possible, as it was not earlier in the season, for strategic, political and competitive reasons, to sprawl out on the wooden benches very pleasantly, drink Cokes, slap mosquitoes, talk shop and gossip about the grim summer track events in Eugene, Ore., Canton, Ohio and Frederick, like veterans who have been through the same battle but on different sides.
Big Glenda was there, all 280 pounds of her. She is a phenomenon, a huge, mountainous, exuberant, gross white girl, who for mysterious reasons and in mysterious ways has gathered together from the heart of the District of Columbia a bunch of very strong, fast black dudes, the D.C. Striders. Big Glenda rubs down these tough boys like a trainer, swats them around, eats them out like a sergeant and mothers them like a hen. She begs money for them and gets them scholarships. They love it and she loves it. "There is no mystery about the D.C. Striders," says Big Glenda. "We've done it all with love."
One of the smorgasbord specials the girls selected was the 880 relay, though there was not a sprinter among the four of them.
"What order should we run?"
"Why don't you let Carol anchor."