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 five—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?
editors? Wallace supporters? (No, there were too many blacks
among us for that one.)
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.
Ryun?" she shouted in his ear.
Jack said he
wasn't. Jim was training back in Kansas.
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.
are," said Frank. "Admit it."
In the passenger
lounge at JFK, an AP reporter presented himself to Head Coach Bill
"I have to
file a story on the team's departure," he said. "So what's the big
"So far as I
know, there is none. We're all here. We leave from Gate 29."