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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 up to the men closest to Frank: Usami, Wolde, Karel Lismont of Belgium and Bacheler. When Clayton and I ran past, Wolde joined us. But Clayton lingered too long at the 25-kilometer refreshment station, and Wolde and I were alone.

On the warm afternoon of Aug. 26 the Games were opened. In white coats and vermilion pants we trudged to the grassy assembly area at one o'clock, there to mill and grow stiff until 4:30 when we could begin the march to the stadium half a mile away.

Distance runner George Young, a four-time Olympian, examined the five USOC officers who would lead us. "I just realized," he said, "that the last time I saw any of those distinguished gentlemen was when we were marching in Mexico."

Traditionally, neither coaches nor managers parade with the athletes. But the USOC appeared to have given its seats to friends and relatives, so many coaches had to enter our ranks to see the opening ceremonies. The head track and field manager, George Wilson, who is the deputy chief of the U.S. Army sports program and who until then had shown a determination to stick to every nitpicking rule, came too. "This is my first protest march," he said.

Jon Anderson, a 10,000-meter runner, moved through the crowd patting strange bulges under his coat and conferring with others similarly misshapen. Every U.S. athlete had been given an Instamatic by Kodak, which had paid the USOC handsomely for the privilege, yet a notice had been posted that morning that read: "One's sense of national pride ought to prevent the carrying of cameras in the opening parade." And if somehow that were not sufficient, they would be confiscated at the gate.

"I'm afraid my personal pride and my national pride are in conflict," said Anderson.

"Pride, my foot," said Shorter. "The Germans just want a monopoly on pictures of the opening. And the USOC wanted Kodak's largesse. And Kodak wanted the Olympic shield on its ads."

Said Anderson, with mock astonishment, "You mean if you follow a gift or a rule to its source, you don't find appreciation for the athletes or concern for our best interests?"

"Only money," said Frank. "Only money."

Once under way to the stadium, our mood continued to be one of sarcastic festivity. Ticketless people lined our route and hung from overpasses. Steeplechaser Mike Manley instructed them in cheering: "Let's have it louder there on the bridge. You, sir, with the flag, wave it like you meant it. Wottle, do you think it would be possible for you to assume an upright position?" As we approached the gate and darkened tunnel, someone shouted, "O.K., everybody, get out your I.D.!"

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