1982— Another basement file another story. A Running Sage Enterprise production.
The Return of the Native, In Brief, Short Term, Not for Long, Not To Stay.
Lowell MA my hometown, city of my youth to return wistfully to visit family and friends on occasion.
In this case I was invited by a friend to meet with a pub owner and well known citizen to discuss my participation in a five mile road race with start and finish at said pub called the Dubliner in downtown Lowell.
The fact that they were inviting me suggested that they were willing and able to reward me for my participation with remuneration. My friend indicated it was so and only a matter of how much and a handshake to seal the deal.
This was the underground economy of the “amateur” athlete a vagabond runner like me was obliged to indulge in to earn his meager bread. Appearance money brought the top racers and gave your event some prestige and media coverage. This is still the case today even with prize money and professionalism.
Before flat-out cash there was merchandise prizes hand picked to suit the athlete’s basic needs.
Athletes other support was athletic shoe company sponsors.
I had my meeting and made my deal, $500 and we shook on it. The event was Labor Day weekend a busy one for me as I planned to run a 20K race the next day in New Haven CT with a $400 appearance fee and additional monies for the top ten places.
Just making hay and not a strategy of any sort,
There would be a competitive field of locals so it would be a good race. I also knew barring some unlikely factor that I would prevail. I was told by multiple sources that my benefactor had placed a bet on another athlete to win a ringer from Ireland who would be attending Villanova. That bet was for $500.
I ran the race and I conquered. It was fun racing the streets of Lowell and brought back memories some good. My high school coach John Lang was out on the course and lauded his coaching abilities to me in mirth as I ran by while also letting me know no one else was in sight.
After the race and a cool down run with fellow competitors I waited in the crowded pub for my do re mi. No sign of my deal maker so I went downstairs and found him in his office where there was cash money all over his desk. He laughed and smiled when he saw me and wordlessly counted out five big ones.
I went and found my friends and said “all right boys, were outta here.”
Soundtrack “Man in Me” Dylan