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A worse competitor for Decker Tabb was Norwegian quarter-miler Marit Eriksen, the rabbit for the women's mile, who turned the first lap in an absurdly fast 61 seconds. "No! Slow down!" yelled Ron Tabb, Mary's husband, from the edge of the track. Decker Tabb slowed down plenty when she went into oxygen debt on the ensuing lap. Her next quarters took nearly 70 seconds each. Still, going into the bell lap she led everyone else by, as usual, a furlong or so.
Into the first turn, Decker Tabb was greeted by vigorous sign pounding. "It sounded like they still thought I could break the world record," she said later. Coming into the home stretch, she caught sight of a digital timer just past the finish line, and she sprinted toward it. "I just kept watching the click, click, click," she said. Her time was 4:21.46.
Decker Tabb had broken her own U.S. record of 4:21.68 and nearly reached the world mark of 4:20.89 held by Lyudmila Veselkova of the Soviet Union. She has now set U.S. or world records six times this year. "Well, now at least we know she can run a good last lap," said Ron, shaking his head.
"Don't look at me like that," said Mary when she got to her husband. "Ron, it wasn't my fault she went out so fast...."
"How many times did I warn you?"
After several minutes talking with Waitz—no hard feelings, Grete—Decker Tabb glanced over at the track and poked her husband in the ribs. "Look how fast they're going," she said.
The fourth annual Dream Mile was under way, and rabbits Bob Benn of Great Britain and Pat Scammel of the U.S. were leading a swarm of 15 runners through a blistering first lap. This race, too, had been delayed by a Kenyan presence: Mike Boit had even had his number removed by a muscle-headed official. As if inspired—or incensed—by that, Boit was running a strong third, followed by Sydney Maree. They passed the quarter-mile mark in :55.6 and the half in 1:52.4, still in mob formation. And they were on American-record, perhaps world-record, pace.
Scott, however, was stuck in the middle of what was a dangerously rough pack. When Ireland's Ray Flynn was shoved on the third turn of the third lap, his left foot kicked up and slashed into Scott's left thigh. "I was lucky to keep my balance at all," said Flynn. "It was bumpy out there," said Scott, whose American record of 3:49.68 was being challenged. "Every time I tried to move up, someone would cut me off."
Still, by the end of three laps, Scott was right on Maree's tail at the front of the race. As they came through three-quarters in a swift 2:53.3, it was clear that more than just victory would be at stake on the final lap.
Maree, a native of South Africa now close enough to full U.S. citizenship to qualify to hold an American record, maintained his lead down the back-stretch and into the last turn. "At 150 meters I thought I had it," he would say. "Then I saw his shadow coming up." Scott came wide off the final turn and charged straight down the belly of the track. Seventy meters from the finish, he edged past Maree. "But I couldn't move away from Sydney," said Scott. "I could see his shadow."