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After 20 years, former runner-up returns for a fun run

By John Powers, Globe Staff, 4/16/2002


Men  |  Women  |  Wheelchairs  |


Women: Okayo KOs course in debut
Men: Rop puts Kenyans back on top
Runner-up: Ndereba is still first-rate
Ryan: Their absence didn't last long
US runners: Support not there
Beardsley: He returns for more fun
Masters: At 43, Kipkemboi in prime
Wheelchairs: VanDyk wins again
Notebook: Runners kept their cool
The start: Meeting first challenge
First-person: To end, the hard way
Heartbreak Hill: Over the top
SporTView: Coverage lagged
Faces in pack: Miles of smiles


Memorable moments
During the race
Before the race
Sunday pasta party
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The crowds along the route didn't recognize him - and Dick Beardsley liked that. ''It was actually nice being a little bit inconspicuous out there,'' said the man who was one-half of one of the Boston Marathon's most famous showdowns. ''They didn't know who I was.''

Twenty years ago, Beardsley and Wayland native Alberto Salazar went foot-to-foot for the final 9 miles until Salazar prevailed by two seconds. Yesterday, the 46-year-old Beardsley was simply runner No. 3999, delighted to break three hours and listen to the cheering along the way.

''I took it all in,'' said Beardsley, who finished 954th in 2:58:48, 952 places later and nearly 50 minutes slower than his 1982 effort in the searing sun. ''I took in the crowd, the noise, the Wellesley girls. It was just a thrill to experience all that. I was running just to be part of the event.''

Two decades ago, all Beardsley saw was the pavement ahead of him and Salazar alongside of him. All he heard was the roar from the walls of spectators lining the final stretch into Boston.

Yesterday, Beardsley had the time to savor a race and a course that he had to rush through in 1982. ''I'm just one of the regular runners now,'' said Beardsley, who works as a fishing guide in Minnesota. ''I didn't want to be treated any different. I took the bus to Hopkinton. I laid on the mats with the other runners. I walked through the crowd to get to my corral. It took me a minute just to get to the starting line.''

Had it taken an hour, Beardsley wouldn't have complained. Since his historic afternoon here, his life had been filled with Job-like afflictions that nearly drove him mad. In a span of five years, Beardsley was tangled in a farm machine that mangled his left leg, was involved in a car accident, was hit by a truck, had back and knee surgery, and became addicted to painkillers.

So lacing on shoes and running again with a sound body and a clear head - especially here - has become a gift from the gods. ''It was a thrill just to come down that long stretch to the finish line,'' Beardsley said. ''At least this time I could feel my legs all the way to the end. Twenty years ago, they were numb for the last 5 miles.''

This story ran on page D2 of the Boston Globe on 4/16/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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