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"Yes, I know, Dad."
Then they were on the track for introductions. Coghlan, all in green, was doing little twinkle-toed accelerations. Scott got a last hug from Kim. Walker limped slightly and looked glum. Masback and Moorcroft were apprehensive, weary of the long television hype that required the milers to bound one by one to the top of the awards stand and wave. It seemed an unnecessary, almost insulting ceremony in the midst of 16,000 spectators who could neither be more knowledgeable nor more excited. Through it all, Coe appeared assured. "Normally I would have been perturbed," he says. "I hate indecision and delay before races. But I wasn't very nervous at all."
At last they went to the line. As soon as all were still, the gun sounded. Coe, wearing his British racing singlet and purple Loughborough shorts, bolted to the front at once to avoid the inevitable pushing within a field of 13 aggressive men. As it was, he still caught an elbow from Masback as the pack jammed together around the first turn. Entering the backstretch, Lacy, running wide, went smoothly ahead. Knowing his weakened condition wouldn't let him be a contender, he had decided to become the crucial element in a great mile, a respected man setting a hard, even pace. Coe was surprised. "I'd no idea he was going to do that."
As Lacy moved to the inside, Scott and Wessinghage followed him. Coe held fourth. Ishii and Bjorge Rudd, Norway's entrant, fell behind and would not be factors. Of the rest, two men's fates were already sealed. One was Masback. "My plan was to go out near the front and stay there," he says. "That plan lasted about a hundred meters. I got out fine, but one by one everyone marched by and pretty soon I had a perfect view of the race."
The other was Coghlan. "I was not cocky, but too cagey, too careful," he says. "I think I was last in the early running."
At the quarter mile, Lacy was timed in 57 seconds flat. Scott was a yard behind, thinking here the two of them were again, as so many times during the U.S. indoor season, "doing the work as usual." Wessinghage and Coe were by in about 57.8. Behind them the pack was dangerously tight, with seven men working for position. "There was a lot of physical contact," says Moorcroft. "I never got past fifth or sixth. It felt like I was running into a wall all the time." Into the third turn, Coghlan and Walker were ninth and 10th, respectively. Coghlan knew he had to get up. "On the second lap when I thought they would ease, they just kept going." He went wide down the backstretch and passed several men, Put made up little on the leaders.
Lacy and Scott hit 800 meters in 1:54.0, with Coe now third in 1:54.5. Lacy had Peen perfect, with two 57-second laps in a row. Now he stepped off the track, coughing, flood pounding in his head. Scott leaned hard into the turn, keeping the pressure on. Later, both Scott and Coe would give Lacy full credit for making a record possible. Scott also says, "He shouldn't have done it. For one thing, he was sick. His throat infection lingered on and he couldn't train until September. But more than that, he'd Proken the indoor world record in February. He is too good a runner to rabbit."
Coe stayed with Scott and daylight opened to the pack. They led by eight yards at 2½ laps, when Coghlan finally took over third from Wessinghage. "I ran as if I had no experience whatsoever," says Coghlan. "I ran three or four little races within the larger one. I made a hell of an effort in the third lap to get to third and once I got there I was exhausted."
Through the third lap, Scott willed himself not to slow. This was how he had destroyed the kick of Villanova's Don Paige in the AAU 1,500 in June. He did not know who was behind him. The crowd was so loud he could hear no footsteps. He had heard no lap times. He didn't care about them. He knew only to run as hard as a man can run.
With 500 meters left, Coe came to Scott's shoulder. Scott, recalling their plan, thought it was Wessinghage. When Coe passed him 30 yards before the three-quarter-mile point, Scott was encouraged, thinking the half-miler had moved too early.