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Although suggestions had been made over the years that a road race from Marathon to Athens might have a certain allure, it was only last year that the Jaycees in the two towns joined to stage one. In recognition of the distance Pheidippides supposedly covered in his Mara-thon-to-Athens run, they devised a course along county roads and State Highway 107 that, with a detour here and a loop there, measured the requisite 26 miles, 385 yards. The course has several steep inclines that, according to Race Director Gerald Koeller, "make Heartbreak Hill seem like a shrimp." Under the circumstances, says Koeller, last year's winning time (2:33:45) by Jeff Valley of Iron Mountain, Mich. was better than it appears.
Koeller, a bowling alley manager in Athens, is an unabashed booster for Marathon County. "We don't have much major industry around here, and we aren't very well known," he says. "We thought a marathon would let the world know we exist." This year's American Odyssey is scheduled for Sept. 13, and lest the world have any doubt that this particular Marathon-to-Athens race is set in a most unusual locale, Koeller adds, "Marathon County has an Italian sheriff, a Polish-German population and, as far as I know, not a single Greek."
HE'S A TRUE INSPIRATION
DOWN, MAYBE NOT OUT
First Notre Dame fails to make college football's Top Ten, then the Montreal Canadiens are bounced from the Stanley Cup playoffs, and now, what's this about Southern Cal's baseball team? Ah yes, the mighty Trojans. In 39 seasons under Coach Rod Dedeaux, USC has won 11 NCAA titles and produced such major league stars as Tom Seaver, Dave Kingman and Bill Lee. Not to mention the 1973 national champions, whose lineup included Fred Lynn, Roy Smalley, Steve Kemp, Rich Dauer, Ed Putman, Randy Scarbery and Pete Redfern, all of whom are currently performing in the American League; the '73 team also had a couple of other players who made it to the big leagues for a spell.
But the just-completed 1980 season proved to be something else again. Starting out with what Dedeaux called his youngest team ever, USC was weakened by injuries and during one torturous stretch lost nine games in a row. The Trojans got back on track for a while, but lost three straight games to UCLA in a season-ending series last weekend for a final record of 27-24 overall and 13-17 in the Pac-10, their first sub-.500 conference showing in 15 years. Nevertheless, an upbeat Dedeaux said, "They'd better beat us this year because this whole club will be back next year and we'll be pretty tough."
These are brave words, but when Dedeaux talks about bouncing back, you'd better listen. A case in point is that talent-laden 1973 team, which somehow managed to lose 11 games (against 40 wins) in the regular season and was being shut out 7-0 on a one-hitter by University of Minnesota Pitcher Dave Winfield going into the ninth inning of a late-round game in the College World Series. Lynn, Smalley & Co. then went to work, and before Winfield and his Gopher teammates knew it, eight USC singles, a sacrifice fly and a stolen base, mixed in with an error, a passed ball and a wild pitch by Minnesota, gave Southern Cal an 8-7 win.
All right, Rod, we'll wait till next year.
In the 15 months since David R. Foster stepped down as Colgate-Palmolive's chief executive officer, his successor, Keith Crane, has sharply cut back the company's deep involvement in sports, something that Foster had avidly promoted. Under Crane, Colgate has dropped sponsorship of such golf tournaments as the women's European Open and the men's Hall of Fame at Pinehurst as well as the men's tennis Grand Prix. It has also sold off several sports equipment lines, including Leach (racquetball) and Ram (golf), and reportedly is trying to dispose of its Bancroft tennis subsidiary.