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In light of such sobering sums, the athletes began to examine just where their true interests lay. For most, it seemed best to get out from under the secrecy of the old system. "Money shouldn't go to the names, it should go to the winners," said Bjorklund two years ago. "Let's run for it instead of bargaining for it."
Over the past winter, Kardong and Chuck Galford, the Cascade Run Offs race director and ARRA's counsel, were assigned to assemble an ARRA circuit, and on June 12 they announced a six-race series: the Cascade Run Off 15 km. for a total purse of $50,000 put up by the Nike shoe people; the Nike Marathon in Eugene, Ore., Sept. 13, for $100,000; the Virginia 10-Miler in Lynchburg, Sept. 26, for $50,000 (largely provided by First Colony Life Insurance); an 8-miler in Boston on Oct. 4 for which a purse of at least $35,000 is still being put together; the Lasse Viren Invitational 20 km. on Nov. 15 in Malibu, Calif. for a minimum of $30,000; and the Orange Bowl Festival 10 km. on Dec. 31 in Miami for a $30,000 minimum.
For the inaugural 15 km. (9.3 miles), the ARRA faithful gathered early. Last year's champions, Lindsay and Catalano, were back, and the lists of their well-trained opponents were deep. The primary object of curiosity was TAC's reaction. Just what would its officers see as being in their best interest? In September of 1980 TAC had announced a Grand Prix circuit of its own. The difference between it and the ARRA series being that TAC's payments would go to athletes' clubs—from which, in all likelihood, the money would be funneled to the runners—thus satisfying the ban on racing for money. "It just perpetuates the hypocrisy," said Kardong.
TAC's first event under this format was the $50,000 Diet Pepsi 10 km. on Oct. 4, 1980 in Purchase, N.Y. Thus far, it's the only. ARRA called its runners out, and most of them did not race.
After that experience, the stung TAC said no more Mr. Nice Guy. Perhaps it saw its very existence threatened, for what place is there for an enforcer of amateurism in a professional world? Before the Portland race, TAC Executive Director Ollan Cassell exchanged cables with IAAF General Secretary John Holt in London and was told to interpret Rule 53 as written. Cassell was told that TAC would have to withdraw its sanction of the race unless ARRA provided two things: a list of declared professionals, presumably so they might be prevented from competing elsewhere; and two finish lines for the race, to sustain the fiction that amateurs and pros ran different races.
When Cassell telephoned Galford on Friday morning, Galford said no to both demands. Contamination. All 6,200 amateur entrants in the Portland race would be risking their eligibility.
Cassell, looking further down the line, advised the Oregon Track Club, which traditionally has been a co-sponsor with Nike of the September marathon in Eugene, that if it continued to be associated with the event after the marathon changed to ARRA's format, the Eugene-based club could conceivably jeopardize its chances of staging the 1984 Olympic Trials. The OTC grudgingly removed its name from the Cascade race.
This kind of pressure had a predictable effect on the runners, who, after all, are exuberantly competitive men and women. "When somebody leans on me, that's when I fight hardest," said Rodgers. "If they try to throw some people out as pros, I'll bring out all the evidence I have against the race directors and TAC for complicity in the form of payments."
"What evidence?" he was asked.
"How about copies of checks made out to me from the New York Marathon?"