Cross-country is a
reservoir of memory and sensation. It is the sound of labored breathing, the
smell of analgesic, crude jokes, bright autumn mornings, teammates, laughter,
sweat and spit, pain, disappointment, the devotion of a coach. This is the
story of one season.
Sept. 14, 1974.
Vanderbilt University, Nashville. This morning we run the first meet of our
college season. The weather is still summery, but the freshly cut grass in the
park is brown and the leaves on the trees are beginning to bleed yellow. It is
early Saturday morning and the park is out of town, so coaches, timers and a
couple of girl friends are the only spectators. We jog part of the course
together—the seven of us—to loosen up.
"So this Roach
guy is good. How good?"
Peachtree this summer."
Caldwell, do you know Roach?"
"I saw him at
"Which one is
one, with the blond hair."
one. He doesn't look very fast."
"Well then, Les, you go out with him. He was leading Peachtree at five