If one were to stand across the valley from Boulder and view the mountainside through binoculars at dawn or dusk, it would seem to be moving, as alive with scurrying things as an anthill is. Almost everybody runs in Boulder, and the very few who don't are glad to stand around with cans of Coors in hand and yell, "Way to go!" Boulder is perched at 5,350 feet, in thin, clean air that one can actually see through, and is said to be the perfect altitude for training for everything from distance running to the good life. Lindsay is more or less typical of the wave of running immigrants who've followed Shorter into town. "Consider this development," says Rich Castro, coordinator of the Boulder-based Frank Shorter Racing Team. "In 1972, only 15 guys in the entire nation had done a 2:20 marathon. Two hours and 20 minutes was a sort of wall back then. But now, in 1980, I know of 17 guys in Boulder who've done that time or better."
While he has not yet run a full marathon, Lindsay works as hard as any top distance runner: 14 or more miles a day; an average of 103 miles a week so far in 1980; 2,055.5 miles by the end of June, 3,034.5 through last week. He's still young enough to believe that all this will somehow lead to a good living. And it well might, what with the very real prospect of a pro road-racing circuit. Or, if that doesn't pan out, at least someone will care about Lindsay's having made the effort. It works beautifully in Boulder; folks care in Boulder, but when Lindsay leaves the hills and appears at sea level, it goes something like this:
LINDSAY: Tell me, who do you think will win the race?
(This is a Lindsay personal poll, conducted by wandering through the crowd before the start of the Falmouth [Mass.] Road Race on Aug. 19, 1979.)
VARIOUS SPECTATORS: Umm, let's see. We'll take Craig Virgin. Or Bill Rodgers. Or, um, Greg Meyer.
LINDSAY: What about Herb Lindsay?
SPECTATORS: Herb...uh, who?
True story, Lindsay insists. What's more, with just a few hundred yards to go in the 7.1-mile race, the leaders were blasting past the Brothers Four Hotel, when yet another sideliner yelled, "Hey, there's Bill Rodgers! But who's that fat guy about to pass him?" The fat guy was our hero, as they say, beating Rodgers and finishing second to Virgin.
Or try this as an example of elusive celebrity:
The Catoctin Mountain (Md.) Park Run, 10 kilometers over a very hilly course on Sept. 15, 1979. Does it ring a bell? Of course. That was the race in which Jimmy Carter, our President, did his famous el foldo, stirring great alarm followed by a lot of bad jokes. Correct. Now, then, here comes the hard part. Guess who won that race?