The first 10,000
meters was passed in 30:48 by Rodgers and the leaders, a 4:58 mile pace. To
observers watching portions of the race being telecast on the huge scoreboard
screens in the stadium, it looked faster than the early pace in the 1,500 that
Walker had just won. At the 16-km. refreshment table, Shorter took a squeeze
bottle of Coke with the carbonation shaken out. Viren, too, took a drink.
"I think his
orders were to stay on my shoulder and do what I did," said Shorter later.
"I played a few games with him, moving back and forth across the front of
the pack, so he would get tangled up with the people behind me."
At 20 km., just
short of halfway, Shorter and Rodgers flanked Viren in the front. Five others
were with them, and the most dangerous looked to be Jerome Drayton of Canada, a
2:10 performer who won the important Fukuoka ( Japan) Marathon last year, and a
smoothly moving, relatively stocky East German in a white shirt. This was
Waldemar Cierpinski, a 25-year-old ex-steeplechaser from Halle. At 13 miles
Cierpinski led and Rodgers faded with pain in a foot he had injured in the U.S.
Trials. Viren began to show signs of difficulty, making little darts and
lurches sideways. At 14 miles, during Walker's victory ceremony, Drayton took
The course turned
from the Rivi�redes-Prairies and headed south along wide thoroughfares past
stone walls, grassy medians bursting with marigolds, roses and petunias. As,
back in the stadium, Steve Riddick was blasting through the anchor leg of the 4
x 100 relay, Shorter accelerated sharply, drawing quickly away from the
dismayed Viren. It seemed a move as decisive as the one that won for him in
Munich, but soon Cierpinski came churning back up to his shoulder, running
easily. Past 30 km. they ran beside old columned residences, under thick trees
that muffled the irritating sound of the helicopter which constantly hovered
near them. Up near the green hill of Mount Royal, Shorter showed the strain,
pumping harder with his arms. Through narrow streets, by old wrought-iron
railings they raced, turning downhill. Suddenly Cierpinski bolted ahead, and
Shorter, expressionless, let him go.
away to a lead of 80 yards, then Shorter, recovering from a wave of fatigue,
began cutting it down to 50, to 20. Past 22 miles Cierpinski looked back, did a
double take, and accelerated once more. As the crowd in the stadium roared for
Newhouse and Parks on the final legs of the 4 x 400 relay, Shorter, disgusted,
knew he would never catch Cierpinski. In the last miles Cierpinski ran with
wide, inward eyes, as if the cold chills were moving in him, the shivers of an
impending, enormous victory. Flashbulbs from spectators' cameras marked his
progress along Sherbrooke and into the stadium, where he arrived not 30 seconds
after the playing of the East German anthem for the women's 4 x 400 relay
Cierpinski gave a
jaunty wave and nearly tripped on the curb of the track. Then, finishing in
2:09:55—an Olympic record by more than two minutes—he kept on for an extra lap.
Shorter, 50 seconds behind, stopped at the finish and so greeted the victor
while standing on the line, much in the manner he has greeted the runner-up in
almost all his other marathons. Unexpectedly, the next two men entered, 50
yards apart, first Karel Lismont of Belgium, the Munich silver medalist, next
Don Kardong, exhausted, leg muscles cramping, but gaining. Throughout the final
lap Kardong crept closer, but to no avail. He missed the bronze by 3.2 seconds,
running a lifetime best of 2:11:15.8. Then Viren, who had said he wanted to
finish honorably, did so, in 2:13:10.8 to take fifth.
"Shorter did a
lot for me in the race," said Cierpinski. "Thanks to him the field was
torn apart after about 23 kilometers and we had a fast race. I think the rain
gave me extra incentive, and it seemed an easy route to me. It actually seemed
it was downhill most of the way."
To this, Shorter,
faint and contemplating retirement, remarked, "You always feel better when
In the morning he
felt better, seeing the possibilities of starting afresh. One yearns that a
good night's sleep might so rejuvenate these ancient and weary Games.