Befitting to the big Bicentennial setting yesterday, a Connecticut Yankee fired another shot heard 'round the world.
Will Rodgers's capture of the Boston AA's 79th marathon race in record time of 2:09.55 was a mind boggler, 35 seconds under Ron Hill's super mark of 1970.
The pale, peak-nosed Wesleyan alumnus, 27,from Jamaica Plain via Hartford - an authentic outsider in the advance speculations - rode the blustery n'west tailwind to the fifth fastest clocking ever recorded globally.
Two minutes behind him, Steve Hoag out of the Minneapolis area was runner-up, running five minutes below the fastest time of his life in 2:11.54.
Finishing off the first 1-2-3 sweep of the race by Americans in 32 years was Tom Fleming, runnerup the two previous years, but Tom raced dramatically faster this time - 2:12.05.
Equally as brilliant in the Hers division as was Will Rodgers in the His event was Fraulien Liane Winter of Germany. This effervescent runner, who called for a beer on arrival at Big Pru, had this kind of a day out of the Hopkinton-Boston race course of 26 miles, 385 yards:
Winged to the finish in the fastest marathon time ever credited to a woman anywhere - 2:42.24; five minutes under Miki Gorman's year-old record and almost 10 miutes faster than her nearest pursuer yesterday, Katherine Switzer.
Fraulein Winter simply set fourth at noon and swung her mop at the other ladies at the very outset. With Will Rodgers, like Paul Revere, it was more a matter of a delayed start.
Bernie Allen, Jerome Drayton, Rodgers, and the late entering Mexican, Mario Quezas, were in arm's reach of one another into Framingham's checkpoint, 6 miles, and running hard - :31.55 or 24 seconds behind Hill's all-course record.
Down into Natick, two seconds behind Hill's record now, the Drayton-Rodgers tandem fled, their strides in perfect harmony, an unusual orchestration in a marathon race.
It wasn't until the threshold to Wellesley Square, the halfway mark, 13.3 miles that Will Rodgers, the Connecticut Yankee, started priming his musket.
From there in he simply kept getting farther ahead of everyboby.
Only one BAA winner ever ran the last half of the course with its ominous Newton Hills faster than Will Rodgers did yesterday, 1h 5m 37s - and that was Shigematsu, the Japanese, 10 years ago to the day.
But Rodgers actually STOPPED running five times in that big, important interval - four times to accept proffered cups of water and once to secure an untied shoelace.
The guy and the day were simply unreal. At one point, only 2.25 miles from the finish he was one minute and 18 seconds ahead opf the record and on his way to an almost incredible 2:09.12 race.
This was what it was all about within the structure of Will Rodgers's sudden and dramatic Marathon shot that was heard 'round the world.
At least seven runners in the field had speed indexes that read about equal going into the race at Hopkinton but, at the end, it was the old physical razzamataz that really settled the issue.
He couldn't believe his record Marathon
by Ernie Roberts
Last Thursday he was asked how he'd feel if, somehow, he won the 79th BAA Marathon.
"I would totally amaze myself. I'd be in a state of shock," admitted William H. Rodgers, the skinny, modest graduate student from Boston College.
He did. And he was.
At 3 p.m. yesterday, deep in the basement of the Prudential Center, the media horde jammed around that green laurel wreath on his sand-colored head, Will Rodgers blinked his blue eyes in amazement.
"Are you sure it's a new record? 2:09.55? Honest? This is absurd. I can't run that fast. This is ridiculous. I must be dreaming this whole thing."
Absurd, ridiculous, incredible? Yes, but true. Rodgers outdistanced the record-sized BAA field of 2041 by two minutes despite stopping four times for water ("I can't run and drink at the same time") and once to tie his shoelace ("On Heartbreak Hill, a good place to stop, don't you think?").
Here is how he recalls the race:
"My strategy was to stay with the leaders and see what happened. I really would have been happy to run anything under 2:19 of last year, hoping maybe for a 2:16 or if I had a really good day, something like 2:15.
"When Bernie Allen took the lead (at Framingham), Jerry Drayton went after him and I went after Drayton. I caught him but probably unconsciously the two of us were pushing it too hard. There were a lot of people yelling for him and that made me run harder.
"I figured I had blown the race in the first 10 miles. Too fast. I thought I wasn't going to be able to make it. Totally wiped out. Instant replay of last year. But I've got a compulsion to get up to the front. Sometimes it's suicidal, knocks me off.
"But conditions were perfect today. The wind just blew me along. And the noise, the crowd support, helped a great deal. Kept me going when I felt like quitting, when ordinarily I would have quit.
"About two miles from the finish line I began to think I might win if my legs didn't cramp on me. I knew I'd get across that line. I would have crawled across if I got up there 100, 200 yards from the end and my legs went on me.
"I kept looking behind me for Drayton. About half a mile from the finish I looked but the crowd had narrowed to a small gap behind me and I had a vision of him sneaking up on me from the side. You get neurotic when you run.
"Then I saw the line and I crossed and I saw Ellen (girlfriend) just after and I knew I'd won it. And people were telling me it was a record. I thought it was about 2:15.
"2:09.55. Absurd. Ridiculous. Now I want to sit down for a month and reevaluate just what the heck I'm doing."
German betters women's record
by Will McDonough
Before it all started, Liane Winter was apprehensive. She was tired after travelling from her native Germany and arriving in Boston early Saturday morning.
She also didn't know much about the BAA Marathon course, because she didn't have time to go over it. She spent most of her 48 hours before the race sightseeing around Boston.
But once the 33-year-old accountant came flying out of the starting area in Hopkinton, she ran like she didn't have a worry in the world.
"I had a couple of tough stretches," said Ms. Winter, "but I felt good most of the way. The people and the other runners were very good to me."
Yesterday, she covered the Marathon distance faster than any woman in history. She ran it in 2 hours, 42 minutes, 24 seconds - one minute and 30 seconds faster than the world's previous fastest time by a female set, by Jackie Hansen.
Ms. Winter was the prerace favorite off her 2:50.3s clocking in the first International Marathon in Germany.
At 5 ft. 9.5 inches, and 145 pounds, she was considerably bigger than Will Rodgers, the first male finisher, who was very gracious when the two posed together for photographers after the race.
"You had a great time," said Rodgers with a big smile, "you must be very happy."
Ms. Winter, who doesn't speak a word of English, answered back through the interpreter: I am. But could you get me a beer. I'd really like a beer."
Ordinary 2:58 is super in a wheelchair
by Will McDonough
Bob Hall 'ran' the 26 mile 385 yard Boston Marathon yesterday in 2 hours and 58 minutes.
Ordinarily, there wouldn't be anything special or super about that kind of time over the Hopkinton to Boston course. Some 500 runners did 2:58, but Bob Hall, a 23-year-old special education teacher from Belmont, was different than any of the other 2040 runners involved. He became the first person in the history of the famed event to go the route - all 26 miles and 385 yards - without his feet ever touching the ground.
You see, Bob Hall can't run. He can't even walk. Since age one, when he was stricken by polio and lost the use of his legs, he's been confined to a wheelchair.
"I'm not really an official entry," said Hall, accepting the plaudits of the other runners when it was over. "I can't be, because I don't run. But I talked to the (Marathon) officials and they said they'd let me get in the race."
"My hands are a little sore because I had to do so much braking," said Hall. "I had to cut in and out a lot between runners. But I had my fingers taped so that the blisters wouldn't become a problem.
"It went very well. I'm really happy. My goal today was to break three hours and I did it. That's all I wanted."
To do this, he had to cover each mile in less than seven minutes. "I did it for the challenge. I knew I could finish. What was important to me was getting here under three hours."