Lebow had brought
everything together at the race headquarters on Columbus Circle, in a 10-story
marble building that used to be the Huntington Hartford Museum. There in the
past weeks he had coordinated a staff of 3,000 volunteers, not to mention five
borough governments and police forces.
of the future isn't going to be managed by clubs," he said the day before
the race. "It will be organized by corporations. I only hope race directors
can guide sponsors, direct them away from being so intrusive that we lose the
spirit that makes this special."
At the eight-mile
point, in the shadow of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower, Bjorklund bolted
out, taking the pace from above five minutes per mile to below 4:56. "Billy
is so strong," he said later, "I figured if I could hurt him badly
enough early, he'd have to go easy the last 10 miles." Only Rodgers stayed
with Bjorklund, but he was shocked at the move. "I was mad at him," he
said. "In fact, I felt like swearing at him because it seemed it was a
chance he didn't have to take. He could have waited for me to die
Behind them the
mood altered. The great following throng was freer of driving competitive
juices, lighter, far more responsive to the crowds. The division between these
worlds of racers and finishers is perhaps the division between sport and
sociology. "This marathoning boom is an American phenomenon," English
Olympian Ron Hill had said. "We have our joggers, but our largest marathon
still draws only 300."
Who were these
thousands in New York? The race organization issued a breakdown of the field by
profession, revealing some startling statistics. Eighty-five percent had
college degrees. Half had graduate degrees. There were 767 lawyers, 547
doctors, 977 teachers. There were 98 company presidents.
ago running was an upper-middle-class white male sport," said George
Hirsch, publisher of New Times and Runner, who finished in 2:48:02. "Now
the women are rushing in, but the question is, will it broaden out, will it
trickle down? It's hard to imagine a hardworking sharecropper or coal miner
dragging home at night and then going out to run."
Rodgers felt as
if he were dragging as he and Bjorklund raced past 10 miles in 49:0, past
Williamsburg's somber colonies of bearded Hasidic Jews in black coats and fur
hats. They surged often. "I could never seem to stay right beside him,"
said Rodgers, who was working on an 18-race winning streak. "I told myself
I'd beaten him in all our races this summer, but then the thought came to me:
was that because all the time he had been pointing for this one?" As they
pounded on over cobblestones and old trolley tracks, Rodgers' wife Ellen
watched from atop the photographers' truck.
"I was sure
they were going to kill each other." she said. "Whoever was running
sensibly in third or fourth was going to win."
halfway, Rodgers asked Bjorklund if he felt all right.
good," was the reply.