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"Once you know how to attack a particular course, it really is an advantage," he said later. "Here, you go hard the first three miles when it's hilly, then go semi-hard the next three when it's flat. The last mile you do what you have to do."
At 4� miles, Rodgers felt vulnerable. The humidity allowed a cocoon of his own heat to swarm over him. "I couldn't surge anymore," he said. "I knew I wasn't going to win."
Salazar was running a half step behind, thinking he could fry an egg on his own forehead. He drew alongside and said, "Bill, you've been doing the work. Why don't I take over?"
"I was ready to say, 'It's your race,' " said Rodgers later. "But when I looked around, he was 10 yards back. I couldn't believe it." Rodgers ran on to win in 32:21, somehow scratching two seconds from his record. Roche finished second in 32:41, Virgin third in 32:55. Salazar faded. "With a mile and a half to go, everything went out of me," he said. "The world looked strange. It was fuzzy and had dim patches. People passed me, four or five in the last half mile. I can't remember anything after the finish. I woke up in a bathtub full of ice."
Salazar's temperature had briefly reached 108�. His elbows bloody and bandaged where attending doctors had driven in intravenous saline solution, he returned to normal quickly, then passed on to subnormal. "They cooled me off in the ice, right down to 94�," he said. "Then they had to get me warm again."
Finishers sprinted a downhill final stretch and received a pink card to fill out (for a drawing for a trip to France), a bottle of Perrier water (the race sponsor) and an "Ice Band" frozen chemical compress for the fevered brow. Then they were left to wander on an immense grassy field. The first 10 knew each other, and for a few minutes it was like old times—the helpless gasping of anoxia, the talk of immediate sensations. "I'd pour water on my head," said Rudy Chapa, the NCAA 5,000-meter champion, who finished 14th, "and it felt like it was boiling by the time it hit my neck." There was also talk of recent deeds. "I look at 8:19.3 this way," said Doug Brown of Athletics West, who had run that time in regaining the American record in the steeplechase two days before in Berlin. "It came back home." World indoor mile record holder Dick Buerkle glistened and beamed, even after finishing 20th, because he is now recovered from a stress fracture and training well.
The first woman, Joan Benoit from Cape Elizabeth, Maine and North Carolina State, arrived in 131st place overall, in 38:50, 25 seconds ahead of Patti Lyons of Quincy, Mass., who had had a huge 600-yard lead at four miles but was forced to slow with a migraine headache. Lyons is 25, a former New England swimming champion, and resolute. Two years ago she weighed 148 pounds and smoked three packs a day. "One morning I looked in my mirror," she recalls, "and said, 'Enough of this.' " Now she weighs 116 and runs 20 miles a day.
Streams of athletes are flowing into running from all kinds of sports. Dia Elliman of Stowe, Vt. was once a top junior U.S. skier. "I didn't have much of an August," she said. "My bees stung me badly and I've been sick with allergies all month." She finished 15th in the women's division. "I might have done better, but I threw up at four miles. I walked a half mile, then I was fine." Asked how the spectators reacted to her distress, she said, "Oh, I was pretty discreet."
Ranged about the field were great tables bearing watermelon wedges, macaroni salad, 7,000 hot dogs, truckloads of yogurt and soft drinks. As the space filled with runners and families and curious spectators, with balloon vendors and film crews and mashed watermelon, with mounted police and dogs wearing Perrier T shirts and hundreds of people wearing Ice Bands around their necks like a convention of whiplash patients, the scene evoked thoughts of running's present awkwardness, its pains of transition.
Experienced runners struggled to separate the boom's virtues from its failings. "This is like a huge family picnic back in Illinois," said Craig Virgin. "I'm coming to more of these."