At length Dixon was equipped and the race began. Rono led after 800 meters. Foster raced ahead at 1,200. McLeod stayed a tight third. Dixon, in the pack, felt horrible. "I was shaking in my legs," he said. "My guts started turning, from the wrench of the thing. And they were useless bloody shoes, jumper's shoes." He finished a blistered, tearful eighth.
Rono regained the lead after five laps and ran on unchallenged to win in 13:23.04. Teammate Mike Musyoki, second in the 10,000, outkicked Foster for his second silver. Rono was awarded his medal by Kipchoge Keino, his inspiration and fan.
"I felt very bad today," Rono said, smiling, playful. "Last night there was a party and I danced a lot and had four beers and didn't get to sleep until 11 o'clock. I'm glad this is over."
Foster fixed Rono with a steady gaze. "I can say someone is going to beat him someday," he said. "But I can't say who, and I can't say how, and I can't say when."
The way to beat Filbert Bayi of Tanzania is to hang close and pray for rain. Bayi is running well, having escaped malaria attacks this summer. He won his 1,500 heat in 3:38.75 (his Commonwealth Games and world record is 3:32.2) and ran so gracefully that it looked 10 seconds slower. In the final Bayi planned to scorch the first lap in 53 seconds. But on Saturday, it rained, cold and hard.
"I hate rain," said Bayi. "If I train in it at home, I get chilled and then the malaria comes." So as planned, he led, but only with silken laps of 57.7, 57.6 and 58.7, a pace just within the capabilities of England's David Moorcroft and Scotland's John Robson. Moorcroft got a foot or two lead at the top of the stretch.
"The last 10 meters seemed like 100," said Bayi. Still, he held second by one-hundredth of a second from Robson. Moorcroft's winning time was 3:35.48 (the equivalent of a 3:53 mile). Bayi and Robson were were clocked in 3:35.59 and 3:35.60, respectively. Scotland's Frank Clement sprinted up the inside to hit 3:35.66, making the race the second-fastest of all time.
Later, Bayi said, "I think the 5,000 will be my favorite by 1980," adding that he half-regretted not taking a shot at Henry Rono. "He races too much, he trains so hard, so many miles," said Bayi. A careful, healthy world 1,500-meter record holder, he implied, such as Bayi himself, might be the man to topple the master.
"But I don't know when," he said. "That is what makes this life so entertaining."