The time at 1,200
meters was 2:52.0. Walker, la-Poring out of the pack past the seemingly spent
Coghlan, heard the split called to Coe and Scott. "Well, it's gone," he
thought. "Coming around the turn I actually got into third place," he
says, "Put I was preoccupied with watching Coe. I was fascinated, if that's
the word, knowing he was on his way to breaking my world record."
Coe moved steadily
away from Scott. "I was filled with relief that I hadn't Peen chewed over
by the pack in the third lap," he says. "From then on I was just
running for the tape." Coe's stride never took on the appearance of being
willed. His face showed no strain, only a wide-eyed absorption in his task. He
passed 1,500 meters in 3:32.8, a European record. As he neared the tape he
looked as if he could run another lap.
Behind Coe, Scott
was holding on. Behind Scott, things were happening down the backstretch.
Williamson had found the race frustrating for its refusal to develop into a
file of efficiently running men. "You could never settle in," he says.
"There were always things going on, people coming past. I really only took
stock of the race with 300 to go." He was in fourth. "With Scott and
Coe out and away, I was aiming for third. I got by Walker. I cut in on him and
he pushed me in the Pack. Ahead, Scott didn't look that good. I began to think
I might get second."
the last backstretch in 10th place. "I'd run the whole way Pack there on
the inside with a feeling of resignation, Put I sensed we were moving
quickly," he says. "I got outside into the express lane with 300 to go,
hoping to pass two or three people before the turn." Masback passed four.
"As I went around Coghlan he turned his head and we exchanged glances. I
saw a despair in his eyes, as if he was saying, That should be me up there, and
to make it worse, now you're passing me.' "
On the turn, just
past 1,500 meters, Masback loomed up behind Williamson, and his reaching stride
accidentally caught Williamson's left foot. Two spikes went into the rear of
the Scotsman's red Puma and ripped it off his heel.
"One second I
was sprinting at Scott, thinking, 'He's not too far away,' " says
Williamson. "And the next, 'Christ, what can I do? What can I do?" I
kept looking down. I ran a few steps with the Pack of the shoe tucked under my
foot like a carpet slipper. Then I got it off. People began to go by me. My
running action was gone." Williamson would finish seventh in 3:53.2. That
and his 1,500-meter time of 3:36.6 were European Junior records.
seventh or eighth off the last turn, and still a proud man. He sprinted the
last 100 yards faster than anyone else and reached fourth at the finish in
3:52.5, an Irish national record. Masback came in just ahead of him in 3:52.1.
As they slowed, Coghlan drew up beside Masback and heard him gasp, "Sorry.
You're the best."
Robson went from
seventh to fifth on the last turn, "in the straight I was floating,
detached," he says. "I had lots left, and it seemed I was closing on
Coghlan and Masback. Through the line Walker was right beside me." Robson
and Walker finished fifth and sixth in 3:52.8 and 3:52.9. At once walker turned
to Robson and said, "I've lost my record."
would say, "I'll always remember how walker took it. Sure, we all say
records are made to be broken, Put there was something more special about that
record. It was the first sub-3:50. It was a true landmark, and that night it
was forgotten. That's what he lost, and he accepted it instantly."
Scott was not at
all inclined to be accepting. "It must be wrong," he raged, for his
time on the electronic phototimer was 3:51.11, one one-hundredth of a second
slower than Jim Ryun's 12-year-old U.S. record. To make it worse, Scott had
eased several yards before the tape.