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THE LONG BLUE LINE: A RERUN
Kenny Moore
April 02, 1973
The painted stripe that guided Olympic marathoners through the streets and parks of Munich led the author to old agonies, new conclusions
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April 02, 1973

The Long Blue Line: A Rerun

The painted stripe that guided Olympic marathoners through the streets and parks of Munich led the author to old agonies, new conclusions

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We came to the first refreshment station. On a hot day it is essential to replace as much lost liquid as possible. Once you have sweated away more than 10 or 12 pounds, your blood becomes too viscous to be pumped easily and you court heatstroke. Frank and I had spent half an hour in the morning shaking the carbonation out of Cokes and pouring the flat liquid into plastic squeeze bottles marked with our numbers. These now were arranged on card tables beside the path. An Ethiopian, Lengissa Bedane, took Frank's. Frank took mine. I took nothing. Frank couldn't return my bottle to me because it is against the rules to aid fellow competitors. We discussed the situation through the remainder of the park. "Sorry," Frank said.

The route to Munich was cluttered with airports. Including Portland, Maine there were at least fiveā€”LaGuardia, JFK, Oslo and Copenhagen. Most of my teammates also went to pre-Olympic meets in Italy or Sweden. Sauntering through these terminals in our double-knit suits with red-white-and-blue-striped belts and two-tone patent-leather loafers, we sparked some curiosity in our fellow travelers. People often seemed surprised when they learned what we were. We in turn wondered what they had guessed. A tour of superpatriotic circus performers? Reader's Digest editors? Wallace supporters? (No, there were too many blacks among us for that one.)

Americans, especially in Europe, often treated us possessively, which was understandable but sometimes got on our nerves. Once when we were seated for a meal, a lady who had learned to speak in the vicinity of Brooklyn, perhaps near a boiler works, materialized behind marathoner Jack Bacheler.

"Are you Ryun?" she shouted in his ear.

Jack said he wasn't. Jim was training back in Kansas.

"Oh, then we're disappointed," she said, and glanced around the table, meeting Frank Shorter's icy stare. "Well, not really disappointed...." She began to make her withdrawal.

"Yes, you are," said Frank. "Admit it."

In the passenger lounge at JFK, an AP reporter presented himself to Head Coach Bill Bowerman.

"I have to file a story on the team's departure," he said. "So what's the big news?"

"So far as I know, there is none. We're all here. We leave from Gate 29."

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