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ALL AROUND THE TOWN
Kenny Moore
October 30, 1978
That's where Bill Rodgers went—from Staten Island to Manhattan—to win his third straight New York marathon
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October 30, 1978

All Around The Town

That's where Bill Rodgers went—from Staten Island to Manhattan—to win his third straight New York marathon

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It worked. Rodgers had two lanes clear as he ran uptown, taking a bottle of water from his brother at 69th Street, running in the blue exhaust of police motorcycles. "It was all willpower," he said. "I had strange, fleeting thoughts. I had a vision of falling down a manhole. I thought once, 'I can't bomb out now. It'd be bad for business.' " (He had introduced a line of running wear at Bloomingdale's the day before.)

Bjorklund ran through disappointment into pain. "I cramped on the inside of my thighs," he said. "By the time we hit the Bronx I was stumbling. I couldn't bend my knees enough to get over the curb on the Madison Avenue Bridge. I stopped with shooting pains. I couldn't work them out. I wasn't going to quit, though. I always finish these things." He did, in 2:29:58 for 76th place. "One of these times, I'm going to stick all the way," he said. "I don't know any other way to run."

Grete Waitz had been timid early. Now she came on, catching Marty Cooksey at 18 miles. They ran together for a mile, then Waitz was on her own, leaving Cooksey to finish a distant second. Waitz is 25, a junior high school language and phys ed teacher from Oslo, and holds the best time in the world this year for the women's mile, 4:26:9. "But there happen strange things after 20 kilometers," said her husband Jack. "I was worried about my legs," said Waitz. "For the last four miles I had cramps in both thighs." Until the last mile she did not know she was running two minutes faster than the world record pace. She finished in 2:32:30.

Rodgers slowed over the last few miles in Central Park. "If someone had offered me water in the Park, I would have stopped and had a drink and a chat," he said blithely. "But no one did, so I pressed on." He finished in 2:12:12 for his third straight New York victory. A re-surging Ian Thompson was two minutes behind. "The emotion in the last half mile was unbelievable," said Thompson. "A glorious sensation." Great Britain's Trevor Wright was third in 2:14:35. Sixth was Jack Foster of New Zealand, in 2:17:29. Foster is 46 years old. Frank Shorter, improving after ankle surgery, was 12th.

Grete Waitz arrived with sunburned shoulders and her new women's world record. "I couldn't think at all," she said. "I was just looking for the finish line." She was tugged before the shouting press with Rodgers, and listened to him say, "I think experience won it for me. Bjorklund is so tough. When he gets the sense of this race, watch out."

Waitz revealed her own sense of the marathon. "I don't know if I'll ever do one of these again," she said.

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