Hear this, Bill
Rodgers, Frank Shorter and Craig Virgin, the early-book favorites to make up
the 1980 U.S. Olympic marathon team. It's not going to be easy. That was the
message that was flashed from the ninth annual Nike/ Oregon Track Club marathon
last Sunday in Eugene, where Tony Sandoval and Jeff Wells, both of the hometown
Athletics West Club, cruised to a mutual victory in 2:10:20, ahead of teammate
John Lodwick's courageous 2:10:54 and Dick Quax' first-ever marathon of
2:11:13. Yes, Rodgers, Shorter and Virgin, as you prepare for next month's New
York Marathon, lend an ear to this emphatic communiqu� from the Northwest.
It was a race
marked by perfect conditions and elated, eager running. A fine mist was falling
through 56� air as the field, sternly limited to 1,000, left the start. Up
front at once was Lodwick, who has been Wells' roommate, first at Rice, then at
the Dallas Theological Seminary and now in Eugene, where both are assistant
pastors of Calvary Baptist Church. "I didn't plan on leading," said
Lodwick later. "I ran with the same effort as I did in previous
marathons." But once he and Bernie Rose, a South African who had entered
under an assumed name of Bernard Randall to circumvent the AAU ban against his
countrymen, drew away from the pack at five miles, the 6'4" Lodwick decided
he had better stay ahead. "I've been a windbreak for a lot guys in past
races," he said, "and there is a certain anxiety to being closely
There seemed to be
none at all to dropping Rose and running freely to a full minute's lead by the
halfway point. His right palm was blue from his having written his expected
checkpoint times there. He soon stopped consulting it. "That was because
after eight miles I was running personal records all the way," he said.
Behind him ran a
pack of five relatively patient men. Wells, the race record holder (2:13:15 in
1977) was feeling at peace with the world. "I was just thinking, 'This is
what I love, running on a good day with good runners. "I was just filled
with the joy of it. It didn't seem too upsetting that John was so far ahead.
Once I even hoped he'd go on to a 2:08 world record."
Herm Atkins, of
Seattle's Club Northwest, went along, knowing he had only to stay with these
rivals to continue the remarkable transition he has made from a runner known
only for his early foot to a world-class marathoner and consistent
Sandoval, 25, who
is a third-year medical student at the University of Colorado, followed a few
yards behind, concentrating on an even flow of effort. "I kept thinking
this is a long race," he said. "Just let all the work you've done carry
you." That work included a glorious month this summer running with Wells
and Lodwick in the high country near Los Alamos and Truchas, N. Mex.,
Sandoval's hometown. On trails 10,000 feet up Guaje Canyon in the Jemez Range,
Sandoval ran with elks, "played in the meadows" and now has returned to
competition five pounds lighter—he's 5'8", 112 pounds—stocked with
boundless emotional reserves.
Quax, as would be
expected of the 1976 Olympic silver medalist at 5,000 meters, was having no
trouble with the pace, but there are experiences on many levels in a marathon.
"I got excited, even euphoric," the New Zealander said. "It was a
feeling you never have on the track. On the road, competitors hand around
sponges. In a 5,000 all that they give you are elbows."
Thus moved, by 18
miles Quax had broken away from Sandoval, Wells and Atkins and was going after
Lodwick. But his charge was too early and too hard.
inexperience," Quax said. Quickly he cut Lodwick's margin to 30 seconds,
then 15. But there he hung.
At 22 miles, in
sudden sunshine, Sandoval and Wells passed Quax and strode lightly on after
Lodwick. They had exchanged small words of encouragement all along. Now there
was no need to talk. "We knew what was happening," said Sandoval.
"There was power exuding from us." They caught Lodwick with 214 miles
to go. "I knew they were coming," Lodwick said. "I tried to prepare
myself not to get discouraged as they went by. We hit 40 kilometers in under
2:04. I knew what that meant. Hang on!"