either," said Rodgers. "Let's coast for a while."
slightly, sharing a water bottle. Bjorklund was pleased, as it seemed he had
tired Rodgers according to plan.
Ahead in the pace
car, Fred Lebow was radioed a message that seemed to dash his plans for a great
Back in 1976
Bronx officials had been hurt because the runners crossed the Willis Avenue
Bridge from Manhattan, took but three ceremonial steps in the fifth borough,
spun around a light pole at the 20-mile mark and headed back to Manhattan. So
last year the course included a mile in this discouraging neighborhood, but the
police, wary of the race's reception here, made it avoid busy intersections.
They learned a lesson. "Everybody loved it." said Lebow. "This year
they said 'let's show it off,' so we ran the blue line on main streets that we
calculated would be the exact same distance." The week of the race it was
discovered the change had added 159 yards. Last year's course had to be used
again. "I don't know why you had to tell anybody it was longer," said
New York Park Commissioner Gordon Davis, a frolicsome man. "Who would
To this the
astonished Lebow returned an affronted stare. "I would know," he
Now Lebow had
learned that the police actually wanted to direct the runners over the longer
route. Incredulous, he cried out to John Schawaroch, chief of the NYPD Traffic
Division. "Please, please. Chief, the times will be all wrong. If you do
this, you'll be killing the whole marathon!"
A few minutes
later, Schawaroch's deputy cruised by to say the switch was off. Lebow
collapsed in relief. "Only one more crisis to go," he said.
Going up the
1,300 yards of bright blue carpet that protected the runners' feet from the
harsh grating of the Queensboro Bridge, Garry Bjorklund's crisis was upon him.
"I couldn't run on the mushy carpet," he said. "Suddenly I was
feel good either," said Rodgers. "Garry had pulled me into
no-man's-land by constantly trying to break me. I felt like slowing with him,
but I thought. 'Who's coming up behind us?' So I went on."
As the runners
swung north on First Avenue, Fred Lebow said, "It is here that I am most
worried." Last year the crowds from the singles bars and fashionable
apartments pressed in so closely that there was seldom room to run more than
single file. The din was heartening, but many felt claustrophobic. "What
would happen if the runners couldn't get through?" someone asked. "They
would lash out, and more spectators would press to see and the whole race would
be strangled." Lebow agreed and appealed to Manhattan police. Miles of gray
barricades were brought in to keep watchers on the sidewalk.