I didn't put any constraints on this team, unlike a good oppressive manager should," said Dr. Dave Martin of his stewardship of the U.S. men who would run in the world cross-country championships a day later. "I gave them their money and a map of the city and said. The work begins on the weekend.' " As the city was Paris, Martin admitted "Until now, nobody thought a damn thing about the race."
For a time it seemed that each runner had reverted to the age when he had learned, or was supposed to have learned, French. When Dr. Duncan Macdonald. an Olympian, the former U.S. record holder at 5,000 meters, and at 31 the dean of the men's team by six years, was dubbed Drunken Macdeviate by teammate Guy Arbogast in a restaurant, Macdonald responded by informing their fellow runners that "the porcelain thing in the bathroom you've never seen before—that's an Arbogast." Two French girls sitting nearby picked up their table and moved it farther away.
The U.S. women were the defending world champions in Paris, and though not as boisterous as the men, matched them for vividness of character. Joan Benoit, who in early February in New Zealand broke her own American record in the marathon by almost four minutes with a 2:31:23, the second fastest ever run by a woman, is small, but not quite delicate. Her face is capable of becoming an emotionless mask, even her eyes going dull, so that one attends only to her words. Thus is their outrageousness enhanced. Rooming with Benoit was Ellison Goodall, who placed third in last year's race in the mud of Limerick, Ireland. Goodall is slight and blonde, and wears seven gold rings and running shoes of hot pink and lime green.
Also back from last year's team were Jan Merrill, who is shy but cannot hide the rich good spirits that dance behind her eyes; Julia Shea, whose melancholy expression is not supported by her behavior; and Margaret Groos, the AAU champion, who suffuses a room with light. Among them, the language strained to carry the weight of their frequent double entendres.
"Joanie, I haven't seen you all day," Goodall said one evening.
"I ran to Nice and back, dead-panned Benoit.
"That was nice," replied Groos.
"But I forgot to get the dried fruit you wanted," said Benoit.
Goodall looked wounded. "Oh dear," she said, "then I'm going into raisin debt."
Morning and evening the women ran over dew-glistened cobblestone streets, through a pedestrian tunnel where a flautist piped his silvery song, into the green and chalky-gravel space of the Bois de Boulogne. Moist trails led them around a lake where flashes of pumpkin and cream through the dark, unleafed trees resolved themselves into narrow row-boats tied in a drift against blustery March winds. They continued up Avenue Foch to the Arc de Triomphe, that remaining substance of Napoleon's ambition, buoyed by the style of Paris, but Groos for one felt that the city's urbanité was at odds with the férocité necessary to cover rough country faster than anyone else in the world. Indeed, as she and Goodall ran in their rustling rain suits, befurred and coiffed Parisian matrons twice stepped from their path and hissed with disdain, "Les enfants." And when they went to use the exercise equipment in a brassy spa, they were ejected for being in shorts; all respectable women were required to wear tights.