Bound by History

A quarter century after they produced the most memorable finish in Boston Marathon history, Dick Beardsley and Alberto Salazar are running against each other again Sunday in Fargo.


A quarter century after they produced the most memorable finish in Boston Marathon history, Dick Beardsley and Alberto Salazar are running against each other again Sunday in Fargo.

"This is just for fun. It won't be nearly as intense," Beardsley said.

As part of this weekend's grand opening of the Dick Beardsley Running Co. in southwest Fargo, the 51-year-old Beardsley and

48-year-old Salazar will participate in a 5-kilometer fun run at 2 p.m. Sunday.

It was anything but fun in the 1982 Boston Marathon where, under a 70-degree April sun, Beardsley and Salazar battled each other from start to finish for 26.2 miles.


"Rarely do you have the two favorites in a marathon duking it out the whole way," Salazar said from his home in Portland, Ore.

Salazar, the heavy favorite who grew up in the Boston area, held off Beardsley, the unknown farm boy from Minnesota. Outkicking Beardsley to the finish line, Salazar won the 86th Boston Marathon by 2 seconds.

It was the first time two runners finished a marathon under 2 hours and 9 minutes in the same race. Despite the heat, Salazar set a new course record of 2:08.52.

Beardsley couldn't believe he placed second with a time of 2:08.54.

"It's one of the few events where people actually remember who finished second," Beardsley said this week, sitting in his new running store in southwest


Boston Marathon officials certainly remember - having invited both Salazar and Beardsley to the race's 20th and 25th anniversaries.

John Brant remembered. Because of the popular response to a magazine article he wrote about the 1982 marathon, Brant authored a book titled "Duel in the Sun: Alberto Salazar, Dick Beardsley and America's Greatest Marathon."


Even the boy who acquired the New Balance painter's cap that Beardsley wore during the marathon remembers. After reading Brant's magazine article, the boy - now 30 and living in Chicago - decided to give the cap back to Beardsley.

"You can still see the sweat mark underneath the bill of the cap," said Beardsley, who plans to display the cap in his new store. "I don't know why, but it was the first time I decided to wear a cap."

And for Beardsley and Salazar, it would be the first and last time they would experience such a grueling and competitive marathon.

Salazar did manage to set American track records in the 5,000 and 10,000 meter runs that summer. But he never broke 2:09 in the marathon again.

The fall after Boston, an Achilles tendon injury forced Beardsley to cancel a return showdown with Salazar in the New York City Marathon. In the next decade, he would become injured in a car crash, nearly have his leg torn off in a farming accident and be hit by a car while training in Minneapolis.

"I left a piece of me on that course that day," Beardsley said of the 1982 Boston Marathon. "I got the living tar beat out of me. It was not so much running that fast, but running that fast under those conditions.

"There is no way I would have run that fast if Al wouldn't have been there. For two-plus hours, we were trying to kill each other."

It all started at noon with 6,689 other runners. After 16 miles, it became a two-man race between Beardsley and Salazar as they headed up the first of the four Newton hills.


This is where Beardsley figured he had to beat a world record-holder like Salazar: run fast between 17 and 21 miles.

"As his shadow got closer to me, I picked up the pace," Beardsley recalled. "I did everything I could to get away from him, but I couldn't."

"I almost gave up," Salazar said. "I just kept telling myself to get to the top the hill and things would turn into my favor."

With his legs turning numb, Beardsley broke the final five miles down to one mile at a time. "One mile to go, one more mile," he kept telling himself.

When there was really one mile left, Beardsley decided to go into a long surge and hold it all the way to the finish line. Suddenly, he felt his hamstring cramp.

"Al went flying by," recalled Beardsley, who saw Salazar build a 20-meter lead.

But Beardsley's hamstring cramp had subsided. Ironically, he had stepped into a pothole and the sudden jarring seemed to relax the muscle.

Weaving his way through motorcycle policemen who had positioned themselves between the two runners, Beardsley was on Salazar's right shoulder with 200 meters remaining.

The crowd was cheering wildly, allowing Beardsley and Salazar to forget about their pain. Salazar, relying on his international track experience, outsprinted Beardsley to the tape.

"Neither one of us was known for having great speed," Salazar said. "But in this case, I knew I was probably faster than Dick."

The two, barely able to stand once they crossed the finish line, went their separate ways. While standing on the winner's podium, Salazar did grab Beardsley's arm to raise it in the air.

"That was really neat," said Beardsley, who now is a motivational speaker and appears at numerous running events nationwide.

Salazar now works for Nike and coaches Olympic-level track and field athletes. He limits his running to four or five miles a day, unlike Beardsley who plans to run in the May 19 Fargo Marathon.

"He can probably run a marathon at a pace that I can run seven miles now," said Salazar, who made an appearance at Beardsley's half marathon in Detroit Lakes, Minn., in 2003.

"Dick is the only runner in the country who I would fly across the country to do something for," Salazar said. "I respect him so much."

That's what dueling in the sun for 26 miles will do for a relationship.

If you go

- What: Dick Beardsley Running Company Grand Opening

- When: Today and Sunday

- Where: 1801 45th St. S.W., Fargo

- Who: From noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, meet Alberto Salazar and Dick Beardsley, who finished first and second in the 1982 Boston Marathon. Also meet John Brant, author of "Duel in the Sun: America's Greatest Marathon."

- Events: 5K fun run at 2 p.m. Sunday that starts and finishes at the store

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549

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