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Not so fortunate was Cuba's Alberto Juantorena. The 1976 Olympic champion at 400 and 800 meters had been having his best season since 1977. But easing down the stretch in his early afternoon 800-meter heat, coasting in second to Brazil's Agberto Guimares, Juantorena was caught at the line by a rushing Juma Ndiwa of Kenya. Juantorena remembers being hit on the hip. Videotape replays didn't seem to show much contact. Yet Juantorena, perhaps galled at the possibility that Ndiwa had stolen the last qualifying spot from him, swerved from his position near the outside of Lane 1 and let his right foot descend onto the track's metal curb.
He fell onto the grass of the infield in agony, and was at once set upon by frantic attendants, who within 90 seconds, over his vehement protests and gesticulations, strapped him, still writhing, to a stretcher and bore him away under the stands. The last that could be seen of him was a final, dramatically resigned collapse onto his back, delivering himself to these incomprehensible people.
Juantorena had torn two ligaments on the outside of that ankle and broken the fifth metatarsal bone in his foot. Surgery repaired the damage. He will be in a cast for at least a month.
Outside, the marathoners had completed their loop through downtown and now began to retrace their steps. "Like horses, smelling the barn," Brown had said they would be here, and the pace was indeed quickening. Waitz, seeming the firm schoolmistress she is, led the remaining contenders nearer to Joyce. Brown looked strong, as did two Soviets, Lucia Belyayeva and Raisa Smekhnova. The race's surprise was 22-year-old, 5'4", 98-pound Marianne Dickerson of St. Joseph, Ill., who was running but her third marathon. A direct, animated soul, she is a graduate student in industrial engineering at Purdue, but plans to transfer to Michigan to get, almost for the first time in her four years of serious running, a coach. Her arm action may have been a bit ragged but the fact that she was still in contention caused her to exult, to nurse outlandish hopes.
"I had figured that there was no way I could even think of getting a medal against a lot of these women," she said. (Brown, for example, had beaten her by more than seven minutes in the Avon race.) "But I knew I would kill any slight chance I had of a miracle like that if I didn't run their pace as long as I could."
At 18 miles, Joyce still looked fresh. A spectator held out a sprig of wildflowers. Joyce took it and carried it until nearly 19 miles, when Waitz finally brought Brown, Smekhnova and Dickerson past. They all ran single file into the wind, taking shelter behind Waitz.
She didn't mind. She had never felt in difficulty, and she knew she had prepared better for this race than for any other marathon in her life. She had done longer runs than ever in the forest. She had skipped the whirl of short road races in favor of controlled time trials. A warm European summer had conditioned her to this weather, and she had been drinking deeply throughout the race, taking swigs of a Norwegian restorative drink from dark flasks that looked as if they might contain Jack Daniels.
Her husband Jack had been able to leapfrog along much of the course. "It's great to see so many women fighting out a marathon when only a few years ago there would have been miles between runners," he said. "Of course we don't have equal opportunity yet. There are still no 5,000- or 10,000-meter races for women in this meet or the Olympics."
It was just such an in-between distance runner that had him most worried. "Smekhnova was second in the world cross-country in 1979," he said. "You have to respect her ability to finish."
Waitz's respect moved her to destroy that ability. Once in the lead, she took the pace down a notch with every kilometer. Dickerson was the first to be left. Then, at 20 miles, where Brown had said, "Here the party will really begin." Brown herself had to surrender to a painful Achilles tendon. She dropped back precipitously, having sacrificed everything for the sake of staying near. She would drop out with three miles to go when the pain in her heel became unbearable. But still the bespectacled Smekhnova clung.